EU Competition Law Newsletter
Below are links to EU Competition Law Newsletters that Cleary publishes each month.
Vigorous Antitrust Enforcement Likely To Continue During Margrethe Vestager’s Second Term As Competition Commissioner
- Margrethe Vestager has been re-appointed as Commissioner for Competition for a second term. If her appointment is approved by the European Parliament, as is expected, she would be in line for a combined 10-year term, which would make her the longest-serving Competition Commissioner. In addition to the competition portfolio, Ms. Vestager will also take on responsibility for the “a Europe fit for the digital age” agenda, and has been designated as one of the executive vice-presidents of the Commission.
- The General Court Renders Two Rulings Relating To The Transparency Of The Commission-Imposed Cartel Fines
On September 24, 2019, the General Court annulled a €33.6 million fine imposed on HSBC for its participation in the euro interest rate derivatives cartel, and on the same day the General Court rejected Printeos’ appeal against the re-imposed fine for its participation in the envelope cartel. Both cases relate to the methodology the Commission applied in calculating the fines and its transparency in that regard. While the General Court found that the Commission provided insufficient reasoning for the applied methodology in calculating the amount of fine it imposed on HSBC, it rejected Printeos’ argument that the Commission breached the right to equal treatment because it applied a different methodology in calculating the fines imposed on the envelope cartel participants.
- The General Court Rules On Two Commission State Aid Tax Decisions: Annuls Decision Against Starbucks, Upholds Decision Against Fiat
On September 24, 2019, the General Court ruled on the appeals against two of the Commission’s decisions ordering recovery of illegal state aid in back taxes that the Netherlands and Luxembourg allegedly provided to Starbucks Manufacturing EMEA BV (“Starbucks”) and Fiat Chrysler Finance Europe (“Fiat”) respectively. These judgments follow the General Court’s ruling in February 2019, in which it annulled a similar Commission decision which found that a Belgian tax scheme for multinational companies constituted state aid. The decisions are anticipated to provide an insight into how the General Court is expected to scrutinize other similar cases currently pending before the General Court.
- The Court Of Justice In Tibor-Trans Expands Forum Options For Cartel Damages Claimants
On July 29, 2019, the Court of Justice confirmed that the Hungarian courts had jurisdiction to rule on damages claims brought by Tibor-Trans Fuvarozó és Kereskedelmi Kft. (“Tibor-Trans”), a Hungarian logistics company, against DAF Trucks N.V. (“DAF”), one of the members of the EU-wide trucks cartel. The Court of Justice clarified that cartel victims may claim damages in any Member State affected by a cartel, even where they had no direct contractual relationship with the cartelists.
- General Court Upholds Poland’s Challenge To OPAL Pipeline Decision
On September 10, 2019, the General Court annulled a European Commission decision concerning the Ostseepipeline-Anbindungsleitung (“OPAL”) gas pipeline for breaching the principle of energy solidarity. The decision approved raising a cap on Gazprom’s use of the pipeline.
- Commission Sends Statement Of Objections To The Czech Subsidiaries Of O2/CETIN And T-Mobile
On August 7, 2019, the Commission sent a SO to Czech mobile telephony operators O2 CZ and T-Mobile CZ, and the network infrastructure company CETIN. The Commission provisionally found that O2 CZ/CETIN and T-Mobile CZ’s network sharing agreement, which dates back to 2011 and covers 2G, 3G, and 4G mobile services for 85% of the population of Czechia, is likely to remove their incentives to improve their own networks and services and therefore restricts competition.
- Commission Approves The Acquisition Of Innogy By E.ON Subject To Commitments
On September 17, 2019, the Commission authorized E.ON’s acquisition of Innogy’s distribution and consumer solutions business and certain electricity generation assets. This transaction is part of a broader asset swap deal between energy companies E.ON and RWE (Innogy’s controlling company).
- Roadmap For The Evaluation Of The Horizontal Block Exemption Regulations Open For Comments
As of September 5, 2019, the Commission is inviting comments on the roadmap for the evaluation of the horizontal block exemption regulations on research and development agreements and specialization agreements (the “Horizontal Block Exemption Regulations”). In the fourth quarter of 2019, the Commission intends to launch a public consultation with a view to determining whether to extend or update the Horizontal Block Exemption Regulations and the Guidelines on horizontal cooperation agreements or let them expire on December 31, 2022. The roadmap is open for comments for four weeks, meaning that stakeholders may provide comments on the roadmap until October 3, 2019.
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