Archives: Competition Law in Europe

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EU Courts extend the doctrine of “undertaking” to private claims for damages

Introduction The wide understanding of the notion of “undertaking” affords the European Commission (“Commission”) broad discretion when identifying the entities liable for competition law infringements, enabling it to attribute liability to all companies that constitute a single economic unit, such that a parent company can be liable for the wrongdoings of its subsidiary. The Commission … Continue Reading

Emerging Trends in UK Competition Law Vlog Series – Part II: Enforcement and Litigation

Covington’s four-part video series offers snapshot briefings on key emerging trends in UK Competition Law. In part two, James Marshall and Sophie Albrighton focus on current trends in enforcement and litigation. They are joined by guest speaker Louise Freeman, co-chair of Covington’s Commercial Litigation and European Dispute Resolution Practice Groups, who has extensive experience representing … Continue Reading

Emerging Trends in UK Competition Law Vlog Series – Part I: Merger Control

Covington’s four-part video series offers snapshot briefings on key emerging trends in UK Competition Law. In the first part, James Marshall and Sophie Albrighton focus on current trends in merger control. They are joined by guest speaker Louise Nash, Corporate Partner in Covington’s London office with over 20 years’ experience of global acquisitions, divestitures and complex commercial transactions. No time … Continue Reading

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

The CJEU’s Lundbeck judgment

On 25 March 2021, the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”) dismissed the appeals by Lundbeck, Merck KGaA (and Generics UK), Arrow, Alpharma (and Xellia) and Ranbaxy, against the General Court’s (“GC”) judgment upholding the European Commission’s (“Commission”) 2013 pay-for-delay infringement decision. Background The case concerns the antidepressant containing the active pharmaceutical ingredient … Continue Reading

Commission provides guidance regarding its Article 22 policy change

On 26 March 2021, the European Commission (“Commission”) published a Staff Working Paper summarising the findings of its evaluation of procedural and jurisdictional aspects of EU merger control (the “Evaluation”), along with a communication providing guidance regarding its change in approach to the use of Article 22 of the EU Merger Regulation (“EUMR”) to refer … 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

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

Germany: The wind of change – Substantial competition law amendments

On 19 January 2021, the 10th amendment of the German Act against Restraints of Competition (“ARC”), the so-called ARC Digitisation Act (the “ARC-DA”) entered into force. The ARC-DA brings far-reaching amendments to German competition law, containing inter alia the introduction of a new framework to intervene in the digital sector and a revision of the … Continue Reading

Digital Markets Act Proposal

Yesterday, the European Commission published its proposals for the Digital Markets Act (“DMA Proposal”) and Digital Services Act (“DSA Proposal”), proposing new regulation of “intermediary services” and “designated gatekeepers”. The proposals would impose new obligations on providers of digital services and augment enforcement powers.… 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

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 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 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

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

European Commission Publishes Exceptional Antitrust Guidance for Undertakings Collaborating to Address the Shortage of Essential Products and Services during COVID-19

On 8 April 2020, the European Commission published its Communication on the “Temporary Framework for assessing antitrust issues related to business cooperation in response to situations of urgency stemming from the current COVID-19 outbreak” (the “Framework“). The Commission recognizes that supply chains have been severely disrupted due to COVID-19, combined with “an asymmetric demand shock … Continue Reading

European Commission reviews its approach to market definition

The European Commission has initiated a public consultation on Friday 3 April, kicking off the review of its relevant market notice. All stakeholders are invited to make their views known, over the course of a six-week period concluding on 15 May 2020. The Notice on the definition of relevant market dates from 1997 and provides … Continue Reading

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
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