Archives: Competition Law in Europe

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Competition laws must be respected even in difficult times – but they are flexible!

This blog post explores whether collaboration among competitors to manufacture and/or distribute critical products and services in specific sectors such as logistics, medical supplies, and groceries and supermarkets, etc. can be justified under European competition law during a crisis even when the collaboration would not be defensible in the absence of the crisis.… 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

The French telecoms regulator has entered the fray “prevailing digital platform”

In his speech in Austin, Texas in 2019[1] and subsequent interviews,[2] the Chairman of the French Electronic Communications and Postal Regulatory Authority (ARCEP) and former general rapporteur at the French Competition Authority, Sébastien Soriano, suggested that it is no longer appropriate to apply the “Schumpeterian paradigm” to technology companies that he characterised as having reached … 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

German Ministry of Economics and Energy publishes the draft Act on Digitalisation of German Competition Law

On 7 October 2019, the German Ministry of Economics and Energy published the draft Act on Digitalisation of German Competition Law (the “Draft Act”).  The Draft Act proposes several key changes to the current competition rules in Germany, with an emphasis on what the proponents present as novel challenges that arise in digital markets and … 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

Margrethe Vestager re-appointed as Competition Commissioner and given a broader digital mandate

On 10 September 2019, Margrethe Vestager was proposed as the European Commissioner for Competition, a post which she has held since November 2014.  The appointment is still subject to the confirmation of the European Parliament. Vestager has also been given the role of Executive Vice President, with the mandate of making “Europe Fit for the … Continue Reading

The European Commission’s guidance on passing-on damages calculation

The European Commission (“EC”) has recently published Guidelines for national courts on how to estimate the share of the overcharge caused by cartels which was passed on by direct purchasers to their customers (“Passing-on Guidelines”). The Passing-on Guidelines provide an extensive practical overview of the applicable legal context, the relevant economic theory and quantification methods … Continue Reading

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

On 14 May, Johan Ysewyn and Dirk Van Erps (DG COMP) gave a presentation on recent EU cartel enforcement at the annual Advanced EU Competition Law Conference in London. Their presentation covered developments in enforcement, policy, and court review between May 2018 and May 2019. There was not much cartel enforcement by the European Commission … Continue Reading

Covington Alert: English Competition Appeals Tribunal to Reconsider £14 Billion Class Action Against MasterCard

On 16 April 2019, England’s Court of Appeal ruled that the Competition Appeals Tribunal (the “CAT”) had erred in rejecting certification of former financial ombudsman Walter Merricks’ class action against MasterCard, for £14 billion.  As a result, the CAT will now reconsider whether to certify the class. The decision has lowered the bar that will need … Continue Reading

The European Commission publishes report on EU loan syndication and its impact on competition in credit markets

On 5 April 2019, the European Commission (“EC”) published a report – prepared by Europe Economics at the request of DG COMP – on EU loan syndication and its impact on competition in credit markets (the “Report”). The Report describes the functioning of the syndicated loan business and seeks to assess whether there are potential … Continue Reading

EU Court Confirms the Annulment of the European Commission’s Decision Prohibiting the UPS/TNT Transaction

On 16 January 2019, the European Court of Justice (“ECJ”) rejected the European Commission’s (“Commission”) appeal in Commission v. UPS. The judgment followed Advocate General Kokott’s Opinion of July 2018, and upholds the 2017 judgment of the General Court (“GC”) annulling on procedural grounds the Commission’s decision prohibiting the acquisition of TNT by UPS.… Continue Reading

An aid scheme or not? The GC annuls the Commission’s decision on Belgium’s system of excess profit tax rulings

On 14 February 2019, the General Court (“GC”) annulled the European Commission’s (“Commission”) decision of 11 January 2016 declaring Belgium’s system of excess profit rulings as an aid scheme incompatible with the Internal Market.  The Commission had ordered the Belgian authorities to recover around € 700 million from at least 35 companies that had benefited … Continue Reading

“No Deal” Brexit and the UK State Aid Regime (Part 2)

On 21 January 2019, the UK government published its draft statutory instrument on State aid, outlining the changes to the UK State aid regime in the event of a no deal Brexit. Its publication comes at critical moment for the UK as it considers the potential options for leaving the European Union: (i) leave with a … Continue Reading

Deal or No Deal Brexit? The Lowdown for Competition Law (Part 1)

Potentially significant changes are just around the corner for the UK competition system, as the country prepares to take the final step of exiting the European Union. In this regard, the UK has three potential options: (i) leave with a deal; (ii) leave without a deal; or (iii) postpone the date of leaving. Should the … Continue Reading

General Court dismisses appeal of the European Commission’s decision in cross-border pay-TV investigation (T-873/16 Groupe Canal +)

The General Court dismissed the appeal by Groupe Canal + against the European Commission’s decision accepting Paramount’s commitments in the cross-border pay-TV investigation (T-873/16 Groupe Canal +). It held that territorial restrictions leading to a partitioning of the internal market could be considered as by-object infringements of competition law, thereby rejecting arguments of copyright law … Continue Reading

“Four-to-three” mergers no longer taboo? The Commission unconditionally approves the acquisition of Tele2 NL by T-Mobile NL

In November 2018, following an in-depth Phase 2 investigation, the European Commission (“Commission”) unconditionally approved the acquisition of Tele2 NL by T-Mobile NL, respectively the fourth and third largest players in the Dutch retail mobile telecoms market. The merged entity remains the third largest player in this market after KPN and VodafoneZiggo. This transaction is the first “four-to-three” … Continue Reading

UK Government and CMA research whether online customers are targeted through personalised pricing

On 4 November 2018, the UK government and the Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) issued a press release confirming that they will examine the practices of retailers that target online consumers and charge them different prices for the same product through personalised pricing.  Their research will cover a range of products sold online “such as … Continue Reading

A refusal to make a ‘Collective Proceedings Order’ in England can be appealed

In its 13 November 2018 judgment in Merricks v MasterCard, the English Court of Appeal (the CA) determined that a refusal by the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) to grant a Collective Proceedings Order (CPO) can be appealed to the Court of Appeal. A CPO is the order by which the CAT authorises a class representative … Continue Reading

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

On 20 November, Johan Ysewyn and Maria Jaspers (DG COMP) presented the highlights of recent EU cartel enforcement in their annual presentation at the Advanced EU Competition Law Conference in Brussels.  Their presentation covered their now-traditional three pillars: enforcement, policy and court review.… Continue Reading
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