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Category Archives: EC Developments

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New EU Competition Commissioner Magrethe Vestager to Take Office in November, Pending Approval

Posted in EC Developments

In an announcement made on 10 September 2014, the President-elect of the next European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker from Luxemburg, unveiled his team and announced that Magrethe Vestager from Denmark will replace Joaquin Almunia as the EU Commissioner for Competition.  Ms Vestager is to take office in November, subject to confirmation by the European Parliament. The [...]

CJEU Rules Maximum Cartel Fine Applies Only to Infringing Subsidiary Turnover and Reduces Fine by €17 Million

Posted in EC Developments

On 4 September 2014, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) confirmed that the maximum fine of 10 per cent of turnover imposed on the infringing subsidiary of a non-infringing parent company should be calculated on the basis of the turnover of that subsidiary, and not the parent company, if and to the [...]

Limitation Periods for Antitrust Damages Actions in The European Union

Posted in Cartel Enforcement, EC Developments

The last decade or so has seen a marked increase in antitrust damages actions brought before the national courts of the EU Member States. As things currently stand, such actions are governed by the various national laws of the 28 Member States. This patchwork of differing national rules further complicates the already complex underpinning of [...]

EU Court Maintains Tough Stance Against Business Practices by Firms With Strong Market Power

Posted in EC Developments

The European Union’s court of first instance, the General Court, has confirmed the Commission’s decision in Intel and upheld a record fine of €1.06 billion. In so doing, it condemned a number of Intel’s business practices, including loyalty rebates. The General Court’s approach suggests that it views exclusionary business practices by a company in a [...]

European Commission Uses EU State Aid Rules Against Aggressive Tax Planning by Multinational Companies

Posted in EC Developments

by Martina Maier and Philipp Werner (with contribution from Katharina Dietz) The European Commission (Commission) took the first concrete action towards using EU State aid rules against aggressive tax planning by multinational companies by opening formal investigations against Ireland (Apple), Luxembourg (Fiat Finance and Trade) and the Netherlands (Starbucks). The Commission has concerns that these [...]

EU’s Top Court Rules Cartel Victims Can Claim Damages From Cartelists Despite No Contractual Link

Posted in Cartel Enforcement, EC Developments

by Martina Maier, Philipp Werner and David Henry In a landmark ruling, the EU’s top court, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Kone and Others C-557/12 of 5 June 2014, has held that, where a cartel causes competing companies to increase their prices, the members of the cartel may be held liable for losses [...]

New EU Consumer Contracts Legislation Comes Into Force on 13 June 2014: E-Commerce Businesses Should Review Terms and Conditions of Sale Now

Posted in Consumer Protection/Privacy, EC Developments

by Rohan Massey, Lionel Lesur, Veronica Pinotti, Vincent Schröder All e-commerce businesses active in the European Economic Area (EEA) should review their current processes, policies, terms and documentation and implement any changes before 13 June 2014 to ensure they are compliant with the new national laws of the EU Member States implementing EU Directive No 2011/83/EU [...]

Revised GBER Reduces Need For Commission Prior Approval of State Aid But Some Conditions Stricter Than Before

Posted in EC Developments

The European Commission (Commission) has adopted new rules that exempt public support given to companies by EU Member States, including regional and local authorities, from the requirement of prior notification to, and approval by, the Commission. These new rules, which revise the General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER) significantly extend the scope of support that can [...]

Commission Holds Goldman Sachs Liable for Former Portfolio Company’s Antitrust Infringement

Posted in Cartel Enforcement, EC Developments

by Veronica Pinotti, Lionel Lesur, Martino Sforza, Nicolò di Castelnuovo In its decision of 2 April 2014 in relation to the underground and submarine high voltage power cables cartel case (COMP/39610), the European Commission (Commission) held the parent companies of the producers involved liable, on the basis that they had exercised decisive influence over the producers. [...]

Significant Changes to UK Competition Regime Now Effective

Posted in Cartel Enforcement, EC Developments, EU Developments

by Andrea Hamilton, David Henry, Aiste Slezeviciute The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 took effect on 1 April 2014. Increased efficiencies and deterrence are the main drivers of this reform. As of 1 April 2014, the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 (ERRA) brings about significant substantive and structural change to the United Kingdom’s [...]

European Commission Adopts Revised Competition Regime for Technology Transfer Agreements

Posted in EC Developments

On 21 March 2014, the European Commission (Commission) adopted a revised set of rules for the assessment of technology transfer agreements by the Commission and national competition authorities. The new Technology Transfer Block Exemption Regulation and accompanying Technology Transfer Guidelines will enter into force on 1 May 2014. The revised regime provides clearer and, arguably [...]

European Commission Targets Spanish Football Clubs including Real Madrid and Barcelona for State Aid Investigations

Posted in EC Developments

The European Commission (Commission), on 18 December 2013, opened three formal State aid investigations into public support measures for major Spanish football clubs. The Commission alleges that the clubs under investigation have benefitted from State aid that cannot be authorised. The clubs, which include Real Madrid and Barcelona, are therefore exposed to the risk of [...]

European Commission Investigates Exemption from Renewable Energy Surcharge for Energy-Intensive Companies in Germany

Posted in EC Developments, Energy/Commodities, German Developments

The European Commission today opened a State aid investigation into the German Renewable Energy Source Act (the EEG), claiming that the EEG may have given unlawful advantages to energy-intensive companies in Germany. These companies now face the potential risk that benefits totalling billions of euros may have to be repaid. The European Commission (Commission) today [...]

European Commission Simplifies Aspects of EU Merger Control

Posted in EC Developments, Mergers & Acquisitions

The European Commission (Commission) has issued a package of measures (the Reform Package), the rationale for which is to simplify and streamline EU merger control. The Reform Package does this by extending “simplified” treatment to more transactions, reducing the information that parties to a notifiable transaction have to submit and streamlining the pre-notification process. The [...]

Relief for harm incurred as a result of protracted judicial review must be sought before General Court

Posted in EC Developments

On 26 November 2013, the European Union’s top court, the European Court of Justice, gave a seminal ruling establishing the principle that a claim for damages for losses incurred as a result of excessively long judicial review proceedings before the General Court must be brought in a separate action before the General Court itself. Introduction [...]

EU National Courts May Have to Order Recovery of State Aid Before European Commission Makes Final Decision

Posted in EC Developments, German Developments

The European Court of Justice decided on 21 November 2013 that EU national courts must assume that a measure qualifies as State aid, if the European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation into that measure. This judgment is relevant to all cases in which the disputed measure was already granted, or is planned to be [...]

CJEU Confirms Prior State Aid Cannot be Taken into Account by Public Authority To Justify Further Subsidies as Market Behaviour

Posted in EC Developments

In its recent judgment in Land Burgenland (Joined Cases C-214/12 P, C-215/12 P and C-223/12 P) the Court of Justice of the European Union has confirmed that State aid granted to an undertaking in the past must not be taken into account in the context of the Market Economy Operator Principle to justify further subsidies, [...]

UK Competition Commission Provisionally Finds Anti-Competitive Features in Privately-Funded Health Care

Posted in EC Developments, Healthcare Antitrust

The UK Competition Commission (the CC) has provisionally found that there are anti-competitive features in the supply or acquisition of privately-funded health care services, which give rise to adverse effects on competition.  If the CC’s provisional position is indicative of its final position, private healthcare providers—in particular, private hospital groups—may face significant changes in how [...]

State Aid Procedural Regulation Grants More Powers to the European Commission

Posted in EC Developments

by Martina Maier and Robert Bäuerle, with contribution from Katharina Dietz, a paralegal at McDermott Will & Emery’s Brussels office New rules of procedure in EU State aid investigations will enter into force very soon.  The European Commission will, for the first time, have the opportunity to request information from entities other than the EU Member State concerned, [...]

On Heels of European Raids, Energy Companies Face U.S. Class Actions

Posted in Cartel Enforcement, EC Developments, Energy/Commodities

by Megan Morley White Oaks Fund LP, an Illinois private placement fund, filed a class action suit last week against BP PLC, Royal Dutch Shell PLC and Statoil ASA in the Southern District of New York.  White Oaks Fund v. BP PLC, et al., case number 1:13-cv-04553.  The complaint alleges that the energy companies colluded [...]

New Guidelines on Regional Aid for 2014-2020

Posted in EC Developments

by Martina Maier The European Commission adopted new Guidelines for regional aid for the period 2014–2020.  The new legal framework will have significant impact on the possibility of public support for investments of public and private undertakings in the European Union.  Major policy changes include the limitation of the possibility for large undertakings to benefit [...]

New German Cartel Fine Guidelines

Posted in Cartel Enforcement, EC Developments, German Developments

by Martina Maier, Philipp Werner and Robert Bäuerle The German Federal Cartel Office has just published new Guidelines on the Setting of Fines for antitrust law infringements.  With these guidelines, the German Federal Cartel Office departs from the method of setting fines used by the European Commission and other national competition authorities in Europe. As [...]

EU Commission Published Proposals for Private Antitrust Litigation

Posted in EC Developments

by Lionel Lesur, Martina Maier and Philipp Werner On 11 June, the European Commission (“Commission”) published its long-awaited package of proposals on private antitrust litigation. The package is divided into three sets: (1) a Draft Directive on actions for damages (2) a Draft Recommendation on promoting group claims (3) and a Draft Communication and Draft [...]