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Johan Ysewyn

Johan Ysewyn advises on all aspects of EC, international and Belgian antitrust law, including merger control, compliance, cartel and leniency issues and abuse of dominance cases.  He acts as the head of the firm’s EU Competition group, working from our Brussels and London offices.

Mr. Ysewyn’s practice has a strong focus on global and European cartel investigations and he has represented companies from a range of sectors.  He is also one of the leading experts on EU state aid issues, working both for beneficiaries and governments.

He regularly speaks at conferences such as GCR, IBC, IBA, Chatham House and other industry events and has written for numerous legal publications.  He is recognised as a leading competition lawyer by Chambers, Legal 500 and other leading industry guides.  Mr. Ysewyn has acted as a non-governmental advisor to the International Competition Network (ICN).

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The CJEU accepts the principle of staggered hybrid cartel settlements in Pometon

On 18 March 2021, the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”) largely dismissed the appeal by Pometon against the General Court’s (“GC”) judgment, which previously partially dismissed Pometon’s appeal against the European Commission (“Commission”) steel abrasives cartel decision.… Continue Reading

Covington Helps Riga Airport Secure EC Recapitalization Approval

Covington represented Riga International Airport and the Latvian State in obtaining State aid approval for the recapitalization of Riga International Airport. On March 8, 2021, the European Commission (EC) approved the state recapitalization of up to €39.7 million, comprising a capital injection and a waived dividend payment for the 2019 financial year.… Continue Reading

EU General Court dismisses first two challenges to State aid awarded to national airlines in response to the COVID-19 pandemic

On 17 February 2021, the General Court of the European Union (“General Court”) in Cases T-259/20 and T-238/20 dismissed Ryanair’s challenges to pandemic aid packages introduced in France and Sweden in order to support the domestic airline sector. The judgments are the first ones where the General Court has decided on the legality of the … Continue Reading

The Commission Publishes the Latest Extension of the Temporary Framework for State aid measures to support the economy during the Covid-19 outbreak

The Commission’s Temporary Framework for State aid measures supporting the economy during the Covid-19 pandemic (the “Temporary Framework”) is proving to be a success.  More than 200 Member State schemes and individual measures have been cleared under the Temporary Framework since its adoption in March 2020.  It seeks to provide the European economy with a … Continue Reading

Goldman Sachs v Commission: The CJEU further expands the parental liability doctrine — private equity businesses and investors tread carefully

On 27 January 2021, the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”) confirmed in Goldman Sachs Group Inc. v European Commission that financial investors can be liable where they hold 100% voting rights over an indirect entity that participated in a cartel, even though the investor does not own 100% of the share capital … Continue Reading

The CJEU provides guidance on the end date in case of a bid-rigging cartel

Introduction In its preliminary ruling of 14 January 2021, the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”) clarified that the duration of an infringement in the case of bid rigging ends once the essential characteristics of the public tender are determined – which in practice likely means at the signing date of the contract … Continue Reading

Presentation of the results from the Covington/Brussels School of Competition immunity and leniency survey 2020

We recently presented to DG COMP the findings of the immunity and leniency survey 2020, which was conducted jointly by Covington and the Brussels School of Competition. The survey ran from December 2019 to March 2020 and asked competition law practitioners, enforcers and in-house counsels to share their observations on the perceived decline in immunity … Continue Reading

UK Supreme Court lowers the bar for collective actions

The UK Supreme Court has today ruled in favour of Walter Merricks, the former head of the UK Financial Ombudsman Service., in a hotly-anticipated judgment in the first opt-out competition class action brought in the UK. Background Mr Merricks is the proposed class representative for 46.2 million people who, between 22 May 1992 and 21 June … Continue Reading

General Court partially annuls dawn raid decisions

In three related judgments of October 5, 2020 (T-249/17, T-254/17 and T-255/17) the General Court (the “GC”) partially annulled European Commission inspection decisions which were the basis for dawn raids on several French retailers. The judgments further develop the position adopted in Czech Railway and Nexans where the GC confirmed that, to launch an inspection … Continue Reading

The French Competition Authority’s first merger prohibition

The French Competition Authority (“FCA”) prohibited the proposed acquisition of the hypermarket retailer Géant Casino by its competitor E.Leclerc in the French city of Troyes.  It found that the transaction would create a duopoly between the two remaining hypermarkets, Carrefour and E.Leclerc, risk increasing prices, and reduce the diversity of the offer for consumers.  It … Continue Reading

The European Commission launches an antitrust sector inquiry into the sector of Internet of Things for consumer-related devices and services

On 16 July 2020, the European Commission (“Commission”) announced that it has launched an antitrust sector inquiry into “consumer-related products and services that are connected to a network and can be controlled at a distance, for example via a voice assistant or mobile device.” Commission Executive Vice President and Competition Commissioner Vestager said that “[t]he … Continue Reading

The revision of the Vertical Block Exemption Regulation – What is likely to change?

Introduction On 25 May 2020, the European Commission (“Commission”) has published its Final Report of the support studies for the evaluation of its Vertical Block Exemption Regulation (“VBER”) and the accompanying Guidelines on Vertical Restraints (the “Final Report”). The Final Report was published following a public consultation from 4 February to 27 May 2019 to … Continue Reading

The New Normal? EU Commission Prepares a New Competition Enforcement Tool Aiming at Structural Competition Concerns

The European Commission (”Commission”) is preparing the ground for a new competition enforcement tool. This new tool could substantially extend the competition authority’s current enforcement powers and allow for far-reaching intervention where the Commission identifies structural competition concerns. In particular, following the proposal, the standard for intervention could be lowered significantly as the Commission may … Continue Reading

The General Court Annuls the Commission’s Decision to Block the Acquisition of Telefónica UK by Hutchison 3G UK – a Landmark Judgment for EU Merger Control?

On 28 May 2020, the EU’s General Court (“GC”) annulled the European Commission’s (“Commission”) decision of 11 May 2016 in which the Commission had prohibited the acquisition of Telefónica UK (“O2”) by Hutchison 3G UK (“Three”). It is the first time the EU Courts interpreted the EU Merger Regulation in so-called “gap-cases”, i.e., concentrations in … Continue Reading

French Public and Administrative Authorities Take Action on Climate Change

At a time when COVID-19 is having direct and indirect effects on the reduction of greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions and ensuing global warming, eight French regulators, including the French Competition Authority, issued on 5 May 2020 a joint working paper in which they highlight the need to take into account the “climate emergency” in defining … Continue Reading

Sustainability and Competition: Covington Assists Unilever on Submission to European Competition Authorities on the Competition Implications of Sustainability Cooperation

With the assistance of Covington, Unilever submitted the attached paper to the European Commission and a number of National Competition Authorities.  It suggests a possible framework for the application of EU competition law to sustainability collaborations between competitors. The paper reflects insights from experts across Unilever and puts forward examples of existing or possible co-operations, … Continue Reading

European Commission Adopts Measures Aimed at Mitigating the Effects of COVID-19 in the Agri-Food Sector

In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the European Commission (“EC”) is taking steps to stabilise the most affected sectors of the economy. As part of its efforts, the EC has announced its support for the agricultural and food sectors which are severely affected by the pandemic. This includes an exceptional derogation from the EU … Continue Reading

The European Commission Includes Recapitalisation Measures in the Temporary Framework for State Aid Measures to Support the Economy During the COVID-19 Outbreak

On 8 May 2020, the European Commission (“Commission”) adopted a second amendment (the “New Amendment”) to the Temporary Framework for State aid measures to support the economy during the COVID-19 outbreak (the “Temporary Framework”) (see our previous post on the Temporary Framework here and on the first amendment here). The New Amendment sets out the … Continue Reading

Competition Enforcement Under the COVID-19 Crisis: DG COMP Staff’s Views

In two recent webinars covering antitrust, mergers and state aid, DG COMP senior officials shared their views on how DG COMP is operating under the current COVID-19 crisis. Antitrust: More Flexible Enforcement Maria Jaspers, head of unit for antitrust case support and policy, gave the following key messages: The absence of legal deadlines creates certain … Continue Reading

The Commission amends the Temporary Framework for State aid measures to support the economy during the COVID-19 outbreak

On 3 April 2020, the European Commission adopted an amendment (the “Amendment”) extending the Temporary Framework for State aid measures to support the economy during the COVID-19 outbreak (The “Temporary Framework”) (See our previous post on the Temporary Framework here). The Amendment aims in particular to facilitate the grant of aid for the research, testing … Continue Reading

The Commission’s Temporary Framework for State Aid Measures to Support the Economy during the COVID-19 Outbreak

On 19 March 2020, the European Commission adopted a Temporary Framework for State aid measures to support the economy in the current COVID-19 outbreak (“The Framework”). The Framework is based on Article 107(3)(b) of the TFEU, which allows State aid to be granted in order to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy. It sets … Continue Reading

Advanced Competition Law Conference Brussels – Joint Presentation on Recent EU Cartel Enforcement

On 27 November, Johan Ysewyn and Annemarie ter Heegde (DG COMP) presented the highlights of recent EU cartel enforcement in their annual presentation at the Advanced EU Competition Law Conference in Brussels. They covered the developments in the traditional three pillars of enforcement, policy and court review.… Continue Reading

The GC’s rulings in Fiat and Starbucks : a green light with a warning

On 24 September 219, the General Court (“GC”) delivered its long awaited judgments on the European Commission’s (“Commission”) decisions finding that tax rulings granted to Starbucks and Fiat constituted State aid. The GC annulled the Commission’s decision on Starbucks but upheld the Commission’s decision on Fiat. The judgements confirm that State aid rules enable the … Continue Reading

Vestager outlines portfolio plans in European Parliament confirmation hearing

After her confirmation hearing in front of the European Parliament on Tuesday 8 October, Magrethe Vestager looks certain to remain as Competition Commissioner for a second term and to combine that with a broader responsibility for digital policy development. Both the second term and the combination of the competition portfolio with a policy brief are … Continue Reading
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