The UK might be on its way out of Europe but, for the time being, it is still subject to its rules.
The European Commission opened its first competition investigation into a UK company since the June referendum on EU membership.
The commission’s competition unit is probing whether a Portsmouth-based shipping company, MMD Shipping Service, received illegal financial aid from the state.
MMD was saved from bankruptcy in 2008 after a £16 million ($20.8 million) bailout from Portsmouth City Council.
The commission has already ruled that the council didn’t break the law in 2008, but is investigating whether financial help since 2009 gave the firm “an unfair advantage over its competitors,” the EU said in a statement.
The help provided includes “annual revenue grants,” a purchase of two cranes by the council and long-term loans. The investigation was triggered after the commission received a complaint from a competitor.
These types of investigations can take years and the probe into MMD may not be finished by the time the UK formally exits the European Union, which will be in 2019 at the earliest. Britain is expected to trigger Article 50, which gives two years to complete exit negotiations, some time in 2017.
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