Complying with the UK’s international obligations on subsidy control: guidance for public authorities

Guidance for public authorities explaining the subsidies chapter of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the UK and the EU, World Trade Organisation rules on subsidies, and other international commitments.



The purpose of the guidance is to explain the UK’s international commitments on subsidy control. All public authorities should read this guidance and assure themselves they understand the UK’s commitments and comply with their obligations in relation to the award of subsidies from 1 January 2021.

The guidance covers the World Trade Organisation (WTO) subsidy rules, known as the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures, and subsidy related commitments contained within the UK’s Free Trade Agreements (FTAs).

The Trade and Cooperation Agreement

The most important of these FTA is the agreement reached between the UK and EU, known as the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA).

The TCA has a chapter on subsidies that contains a number of provisions that public authorities will need to be aware of and ensure compliance with when designing their subsidies. The chapter ensures that each Party will have in place its own independent system of subsidy control and that neither Party is bound to follow the rules of the other. It includes some broad principles which shape the design of both sides’ systems, aiming to ensure that the granting of subsidy does not have detrimental effects on trade between the Parties.

This guidance also contains advice for public authorities to help them understand the limited circumstances where subsidies will fall within scope of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Although public authorities are expected to consult and refer to this guidance as part of their decision-making on the granting of subsidies, the information in this document is not exhaustive. Public authorities will need to make a case-by-case consideration of their proposed subsidy.

The guidance includes links to other relevant documents and specific contact details on how to contact the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy for further advice.

Published 31 December 2020
Last updated 24 June 2021 + show all updates
  1. Guidance updated to include further detail on the provisions of the Subsidy Chapter of the UK-EU Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA), including updated references to the Article numbers of the TCA as adopted.

  2. First published.