Profile

Nicole heads Oxera’s State Aid practice. She leads Oxera’s advice to clients on economic and financial issues associated with a diverse range of state aid matters across sectors including energy, financial services, health, post and telecoms, transport and sports infrastructure. Her advice covers a broad range of economic and financial issues in state aid cases relating to assessments of the market economy operator principle (MEOP), the application of state aid rules for services of general economic interest (SGEI), and the compatibility of aid. She provides advice on state aid compliance, and advises beneficiaries, complainants and member states during investigations by the European Commission and in state aid litigation cases in front of the European courts. She has given expert economic evidence on state aid matters in front of the General Court on several occasions.

Nicole teaches the state aid module on the postgraduate diploma in Economics for Competition Law at King’s College London, and provides training for EU Judges on the economics of state aid. Nicole has a wide breadth of experience in the field of state aid, and regularly speaks at, and chairs, state aid events (including chairing the Global Competition Review’s annual state aid conference in 2016 and 2017). She publishes on state aid matters in the leading competition journals.

Selected project experience

  • Advising a multinational on state aid matters in relation to a tax ruling in an EU member state (2018)
  • Expert advice to a defendant in an €80m+ state aid damages claim (2018)
  • Leading Oxera’s expert advice to a top Spanish football club in relation to an appeal of a state aid decision in front of the General Court (2016–18)
  • Leading the Oxera team advising a company in the telecoms sector on broadband state aid matters (2017–18)
  • Expert evidence in front of the General Court on state aid matters (2017–18)
  • Led the Oxera team advising a state-owned entity on state aid matters relating to a proposed equity injection (2018)
  • Study for the European Commission on assessing the impact of aid on competition, as part of ex post evaluations of aid measures (2016–17)
  • Submitted an expert opinion on the application of the MEOP for a large international client in front of the European courts (2016–17)
  • Led the Oxera team advising a member state in relation to state aid matters relating to a research and development project (2017–)
  • Led the Oxera team advising an investment agency on state aid compliance of loan arrangements for a European airport (2017)
  • Led Oxera’s state aid advice to a large sea port in the Netherlands (2016–17)
  • Led the Oxera team advising a leading pharmaceutical company on fiscal incentives (2017)
  • Led Oxera’s state aid advice to a large international investor in a motorsport facility, focusing on the MEOP assessment of a state guarantee on a loan (2016–17)
  • Led Oxera’s advice to an airport in Sweden on matters relating to the notification of investment aid, leading to approval from the Commission (2016–17)
  • Advised a client in the transport sector on the notification of rescue and restructuring aid (2016)
  • Leading Oxera’s advice to airports in Italy in relation to the compatibility of investment aid and MEOP assessments of agreements with airlines (2016–18)
  • Leading Oxera’s state aid advice to Ryanair, including on cases in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and Spain (2011–18)
  • Led the Oxera team advising a large airport on MEOP assessments of loan arrangements (2016)
  • Prepared an expert report in relation to a state aid litigation case in Germany (2015–16)
  • Led the Oxera team advising RWE and Drax in relation to the compatibility of aid for the conversion of coal power plants to biomass (2015–16)
  • Advised an EU member state in Southern Europe on state aid issues in relation to the notification of long-term contracts for a new power plant (2015–16)
  • Led Oxera’s advice to the Health Insurance Authority on state aid matters under the SGEI framework (2012–17)
  • Led the Oxera team advising an airport in Italy on state aid submissions in relation to the compatibility of infrastructure aid (2014–16)

Selected publications

  • Robins, N. (2017), ‘Assessing state aid in the beautiful game’, Global Sports Law & Taxation Reports, 8:2, 2017/17, June, pp. 26–30.
  • Robins, N., Solomon, P. and Shamsi, S. (2017), ‘Compensatory measures in the banking sector’, chapter 6, in F.-C. Laprévote, J. Gray and F. de Cecco (eds), Research Handbook on State Aid in the Banking Sector, Edward Elgar Publishing.
  • Robins, N. and Geldof, H. (2017), ‘The Ryanair Charleroi judgment: What Is Its Legacy?’, in C. Buts and J.L. Buendía Sierra (eds), Milestones in State Aid Case Law, lexxion.
  • Kavanagh, J. and Robins, N. (2017), ‘Introduction to State Aid Law and Policy’, in K. Bacon (ed.), European Union Law Of State Aid, Oxford University Press.
  • Robins, N. and Chakma, T. (2016), ‘State Aid in Energy under the Spotlight: The Implications of the Hinkley Point Decision’, European State Aid Law Quarterly, 15:2, pp. 247–57.
  • Robins, N. and Khalil, M. (2016), ‘The Bitter Side of Illegal Tax Sweeteners: State Aid investigations of Corporate Tax Arrangements’, Concurrences, 19 December.
  • Robins, N. (2013), ‘The Implications of State Aid Modernisation’, Competition Law Journal, 12:2, pp. 251–8.

Qualifications

  • MSc Economics and Finance, Warwick Business School
  • BSc Business Economics with Computing, University of Surrey