On 31 May 2024, the European Commission (“Commission”) adopted an amendment to its Regional aid Guidelines (“RAG”), allowing EU Member States to grant higher amounts of aid to investment projects falling into the Strategic Technologies for Europe Platform’s (“STEP”) objectives in disadvantaged areas of the EU. STEP is an EU initiative designed to boost the EU’s industrial competitiveness and reinforce EU sovereignty by supporting critical and emerging strategic technologies and their respective value chains.

Key takeaways

  • In the EU, large businesses can only receive State aid from Member States for their large investment projects (“LIPs”) in production facilities if their projects take place in disadvantaged areas of the EU. The conditions to access such State support and the maximum aid amount are laid down in the RAG.
  • STEP’s objectives are to support the development and the manufacturing of clean tech, digital technologies, and bio-tech.
  • The amendment to the RAG allows Member States to grant large businesses higher amounts of aid for their LIPs where they contribute to the STEP objectives.

Continue Reading The Commission amends regional aid rules to foster support for strategic technology projects

This year, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) is set to gain a range of new enforcement powers under the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers (“DMCC”) Act (the final text is now available here). The DMCC Act received Royal Assent on 24 May 2024. However, with certain exceptions, the Act’s provisions will not come into force until secondary legislation is passed. The CMA initially expected its new responsibilities to become operational in the Autumn, but this timeline may be delayed due to the UK’s election on 4 July. On the same day as the DMCC Act became law, the CMA published for consultation its new Digital Markets Competition Regime Guidance.

An outline of the key provisions of the DMCC Act can be found here. As the CMA sets the groundwork for exercising its powers under this new regime, this blog post considers five practical considerations for firms active in the UK.

Key takeaways:

  1. The CMA will administer the new regime through a specialist Digital Markets Unit, which was established over three years ago.
  2. The DMCC Act may diverge from the EU’s Digital Markets Act, both in the companies being designated, and the obligations imposed on designated companies.
  3. The interplay between the DMCC regime and existing regulatory obligations – particularly the GDPR – is likely to raise practical challenges.
  4. We expect the CMA to exercise its powers under the digital markets regime alongside existing antitrust tools (which the DMCC Act amends).
  5. The CMA’s jurisdictional thresholds to review mergers under the UK’s merger control regime will change as a result of the DMCC Act.

Continue Reading The UK’s New Digital Markets Regime: Some Key Takeaways

The Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers (“DMCC”) Act received Royal Assent on 24 May 2024 (the final text is now available here). The DMCC Act will only enter into force, however, when secondary commencement legislation has been enacted (with some minor exceptions). This is expected to occur in Autumn 2024, but it

Continue Reading Overview of the UK’s New Digital Markets Regime

In line with its previous decision-making practice (see our previous sustainability blog posts here and here), on 8 May 2024, the German Federal Cartel Office (“FCO”) declared the implementation of a new European industry standard for reusable pot plant trays compatible with competition law.

Since 2021, companies and associations from the European

Continue Reading FCO gives green light for ‘greener’ plant trays

Last summer, the antitrust agencies proposed sweeping changes to the Hart-Scott-Rodino (“HSR”) Act premerger notification form and associated rules. Covered in detail here, the proposed changes would significantly increase the time, burden, and costs on merging parties to prepare an HSR filing. The public comment period ended on September 27, 2023. Since then, the agencies have given little indication what changes would be made in response to the comments or when the proposed rules would be finalized.Continue Reading New HSR Rules Will Be Finalized Within Weeks, According to DOJ Official

On March 28, 2024, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission jointly filed a Statement of Interest on behalf of the United States in the case of Cornish-Adebiyi v. Caesars Entertainment, 1:23-CV-02536 (D.N.J. Mar. 28, 2024).  Continue Reading U.S. Competition Agencies File Statement of Interest in Algorithmic Pricing Case

The EU Foreign Subsidies Regulation (“FSR”), which creates a new clearance mechanism for non-EU subsidies granted to companies engaging in certain activities in the EU, took effect on 12 July 2023, with notification obligations starting on 12 October 2023. On 22 February 2024 the European Commission’s (“Commission”) Directorate General for Competition (“DG COMP”) published a Policy Brief discussing the 100 days since the start of the notification obligation for concentrations.

This post provides an update to our previous blog post on FSR enforcement expectations for 2024, taking account of the Policy Brief, the reported enforcement activity of the Commission’s Directorate General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (“DG GROW”) for public procurement procedures, and the launch of the first in-depth investigation by DG GROW into a public procurement procedure in Bulgaria.

Key Takeaways

  • The Commission does not publish the decisions it adopts after a preliminary review and will not issue guidelines on key concepts underpinning the FSR before 2026. In the meantime it has sought to provide some additional guidance to companies through informal documents such as Q&A pages, news articles, and Policy Briefs. However, it has yet to provide guidance on how it assesses the distortive potential of foreign subsidies. Companies will therefore have to anticipate how such foreign subsidies will be assessed under the FSR, with a view to developing their own narratives to persuade the Commission that any foreign subsidies they may have received are unproblematic.
  • As of 20 January 2024, DG COMP had received 53 (pre-)notifications, higher than the 30 notifications it expected annually in its 2021 FSR proposal. To review these files and launch investigations on its own, DG COMP has been restructured with the creation of a new directorate (Directorate K) from 1 March.
  • As on 19 January, DG GROW, which is in charge of reviewing public procurement procedures, had received over 100 notifications / declarations. DG GROW also opened its first in-depth investigation into foreign subsidies received by CRRC, a Chinese rolling stock manufacturer.

Continue Reading The EU Foreign Subsidies Regulation – Key takeaways from the first 100 days

2023 saw a number of developments concerning the interplay between sustainability considerations and competition policy. This blog post highlights the five key developments that businesses need to know when collaborating to achieve sustainable aims.

Key takeaways

  1. Authorities in the EU and UK resisted calls for introducing a sustainability safe harbour and adopted guidelines based on
Continue Reading Was 2023 a green antitrust year? Five sustainability related competition law developments you need to know

The European Commission (the “Commission”) issued a White Paper on Outbound Investments (the “White Paper”) on 24 January 2024, setting out non-binding proposals for a detailed analysis of EU outbound investment. With its initiative, the Commission aims to understand whether the current limited regulation in the area of outbound investments is

Continue Reading Outbound investment screening in the EU – A major step forward?

On 24 January 2024, the European Commission (the “Commission”) published its European Economic Security Package (the “EESP”), which included the long-awaited proposal to reform the EU Regulation which established a framework for Foreign Direct Investment screening (the “EU FDI Regulation”). The EESP’s proposed regulation (the “Proposed Regulation”)

Continue Reading Draft EU Screening Regulation – a new chapter for screening foreign direct investments in the EU