Archives: Competition Law in Europe

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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

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
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