Massimo Merola


  • EU law, with specific focus on state aid, litigation before EU courts, including preliminary rulings, customs law, state-owned undertakings and public procurement
  • Competition law (mergers, antitrust, abuse of dominance)
  • Representation of clients before:
    • the European Commission
    • national authorities
    • European courts
  • In- and out-of-court assistance, at national and European level, to governments, public authorities and blue-chip companies operating in sectors such as:
    • energy
    • banking
    • finance
    • insurance
    • transport
    • infrastructure
    • public services
    • telecommunications
    • aeronautics and defence
    • services
    • manufacturing
    • food and agriculture

Foreign languages: English, French


  • Managing partner of the Brussels office and supervising the EU practice
  • Member of the Infrastructure, Energy & Ecological Transition Focus Team
  • Member of the Environmental Sustainability Focus Team
  • Member of the Restructuring & Insolvency Focus Team
  • Member of the Public International Law & Economic Diplomacy Focus Team
  • Member of the Golden Power Task Force
  • Member of the Competition Litigation Task Force
  • Country Partner for Spain
  • Founding member of Pappalardo e Associati in 1992, which evolved into BonelliErede
  • Member of the Academic Council as well as of the Executive Committee and the Scientific Committee and former President of the Global Competition Law Centre, the research centre on Competition Law of the College of Europe

Ranking and Awards

The Chambers & Partners and Legal 500 EMEA international legal directories list Massimo as one of the major experts in both Italy and Belgium on state aid and Competition law.


“Massimo Merola is an authority, particularly in the state aid sector, and his opinions are highly respected by the parties and the Commission alike.”

(The Legal500 EMEA)


  • Lecturer on state aid and state-owned companies at the College of Europe (mandatory course for students specialising in competition law) in Bruges
  • Lecturer at Université Paris II
  • Member of the Rome and Brussels Bar, admitted to practice before the Italian Supreme Court (Corte di Cassazione)
  • PhD candidate at Unversité Libre de Bruxelles
  • Law degree from La Sapienza University in Rome

Knowledge Sharing

Proposal for a new EU regulation on FDI screening: prospects for reform

The European Commission recently presented a proposal for a regulation to revise and strengthen the EU’s FDI rules in light of the critical issues associated with the current Regulation (EU) 2019/452. The Commission’s goal is to broaden the scope of the EU’s FDI rules and reinforce scr …

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Golden Power news: application of the rules to intra-group transactions and public tenders

The recent legislation confirms the Italian Government’s constant attention to all matters linked to FDI screening. The “Omnibus Decree” extends the Government’s special powers under Golden Power legislation to cases involving non-EU entities, including intra-group transactions relat …

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Recent CJEU judgment: towards a restriction of the scope of foreign investment control regulation?

The CJEU’s recent judgment of 13 July contains important clarification concerning the application of Regulation (EU) 2019/452 on the coordination of control mechanisms for foreign direct investment (“Regulation”) and the ability of Member States to exercise veto power. The Court adopts …

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The new text of the Temporary Crisis and Transition Framework: more flexibility in State aid control

On 9 March 2023, the European Commission published the new text of the Temporary Crisis and Transition Framework. The new text of the framework aims to make EU State aid rules simpler and more flexible so that EU policy objectives can be more easily achieved in these times of crisis and ecol …

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The exercise of special powers under Italy’s FDI screening framework: new solutions for strategic companies

On 1 February, Law 10/2023 converted Law Decree No. 187 of 5 December 2022 into law, thereby introducing: (a) general changes to Italy’s FDI screening framework, and (b) the possibility of temporary administration for companies in the oil refining sector. On 6 February, the Commission publ …

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Foreign subsidies control: the missing piece to preserve the internal market

New regulation on foreign subsidies distorting the internal market – modelled on the existing State aid rules. The regulation addresses distortions to the level playing field caused by subsidies granted by non-EU member states. New notification requirements will apply as of 12 October 2023 …

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Streamlining Italy’s FDI screening framework: pre-notification now possible

On 24 September, a regulation streamlining Italy’s FDI screening framework will come into effect. Its goal is to reduce the number of notifications filed (which has skyrocketed in the last few years) and speed up the screening process. The biggest change is the introduction of a pre-notifica …

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Recovery and Resilience Facility: intervention areas, procedures and EU law aspects

The facility is basically a fund to help the European economy recover from the economic and social impact of the pandemic and to make companies more sustainable, resilient and better prepared to face the challenges and opportunities with the transition to green and digital. The European Comm …

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More filings, few conditions: a glimpse into the Italian government’s 2019 FDI screening report

The Italian government recently published its annual FDI screening report for 2019. Despite the wider scope of application and the growing number of transactions subject to FDI screening, conditions were imposed in only 13 cases (approx. 16% of the total number of filings). Perhaps not so su …

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How Covid-19 measures affect investment control in Italy and the EU?

This note addresses the following 3 developments in investment screening caused by Covid-19 outbreak: The Cura Italia decree suspended the timeframe for administrative procedures, including Golden Power, but lodging an urgency request could be a way to avoid the suspension; …

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Golden Power: current landscape in the EU about "Foreign Direct Investment"

Foreign direct investment control mechanisms around the world vary in both substance and procedure. But what about in the EU? Even though it boasts a very open regime, concern about foreign investors, including state-owned companies, in strategic businesses is growing: their role in cross …

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Foreign investment control in Italy: new timeframe and rules

In Italy, the government’s powers to screen investments in strategic sectors take the evocative name of “Golden Power”. Last Wednesday (13 November), the Italian parliament approved the conversion into law of Law Decree 105/2019, which introduces significant changes to Italy’s Golden Po …

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The ECN+ DIRECTIVE: Main features and potential impact on Italy’s legal system

On 4 December 2018, the Council of the European Union approved the ECN + Directive, with the aim of empowering the competition authorities of the Member States to be more effective enforcers and to ensure the proper functioning of the internal market: the ECN+ Directive want t …

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Another first in Italy: BonelliErede launches its Competition Litigation Task Force - 10 February 2021

BonelliErede has drawn on its strengths in civil litigation and competition law, its expertise in competition-related damages actions, and its proven track record to set up a new task force dedicated to competition litigation – the first of its kind in Italy. The Competition Litigation Task F …

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BonelliErede launches the first task force dedicated to Golden Powers legislation - 17 October 2019

BonelliErede has launched a new task force dedicated to all matters relating to Italy’s Golden Powers legislation to respond to investors’ needs created by this complex and highly topical piece of legislation on investments in strategic sectors. The legislation gives government bodies the p …

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