Competition weekly news summary
Friday, January 29, 2010

Conferences and Speeches

  • The important role of the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications
    Inaugural meeting of BEREC, Palais d'Egmont, Brussels, Neelie Kroes
    28 January 2010
    "It is also in my interests that you succeed, and you can rest assured that I, like the European Parliament, think that a strong and independent BEREC is the best chance for this success. Not only for BEREC, but also in reinforcing the efforts of national regulators who might sometimes feel their independence is under pressure back home.
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Antitrust

  • First edition of newsletter on ECN activities
    28 January 2010
    The European Competition Network (ECN), composed of the competition authorities of the EU Member States and the European Commission, has today published the first issue of the ECN Brief. The ECN Brief will inform readers about the activities of the ECN and its members to ensure wider communication on antitrust enforcement and advocacy action by all authorities in the ECN.
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  • Commission opens formal proceedings concerning iron ore production joint venture between BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto
    25 January 2010
    The Commission opened a formal antitrust investigation into a proposed joint venture between Anglo-Australian mining companies Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton. The Commission will in particular examine the effects of the proposed joint venture on the worldwide market for iron ore transported by sea (so-called "seaborne iron ore").
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Mergers

  • Commission refers proposed acquisition of Super de Boer Assets by Schuitema to Dutch Competition Authority
    26 January 2010
    The Dutch competition authority asked the Commission to refer the notified concentration to it because it considers that the transaction threatens to significantly affect competition in a number of local retail markets within The Netherlands.
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  • Commission clears proposed acquisition of Unitymedia by LGE
    25 January 2010
    The Commission found that the horizontal overlap in the market for licensing of TV content in German-speaking countries was unlikely to lead to competition problems due to the parties' limited market share and the presence of strong competitors such as Sky, Canal+ and RTL-Group. The Commission also investigated the effects of the proposed concentration on access to LGE's pay-TV programmes by competitors of Unitymedia and found no competition concerns. In particular, the merged company would not be able to negatively impact other TV-platform operators by refusing access to its pay-TV channels because of the availability of competing channels. The merged company would also lack the ability to deny operators of TV-channels access to customers, because of the merged company's limited share of demand for TV-content and the presence of strong competitors operating other TV-platforms.
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State aid

  • Commission orders recovery of aid granted to Sovello AG (formerly EverQ GmbH)
    29 January 2010
    The Commission found that Sovello AG, a German manufacturer of solar panels, was not entitled to receive public support in the form of a bonus for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), previously authorised by the Commission in June 2006, because the company did not meet the relevant criteria of the applicable EU framework for aid to SMEs (Commission Recommendation 2003/361/EC).
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  • Commission takes Italy to Court for failure to recover illegal aid from hotels in Sardinia
    29 January 2010
    The Commission referred Italy to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on the basis of Article 108(2) of the TFEU for failing to comply with a Commission decision of July 2008. The 2008 decision ordered Italy to recover state aid unlawfully granted for certain investment projects in the hotel industry. To date, Italy has not recovered the aid from the beneficiaries.
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  • Commission opens in-depth inquiry into €55 million investment into French car component supplier Trèves
    29 January 2010
    The Commission opened an in-depth investigation to establish whether an investment worth €55 million that the Fonds de Modernisation des Equipementiers Automobiles (FMEA) granted to automotive supplier Trèves is in line with EU rules on state aid.
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  • Commission refers Belgium to Court for failure to implement Financial Transparency Directive
    28 January 2010
    The Commission referrred Belgium to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for its failure to implement Commission Directive 2005/81/EC on the transparency of financial relations between Member States and public undertakings. Member States were required to implement the Directive into national law by 19 December 2006. Despite two previous warnings, Belgium has not yet informed the Commission about the full implementation of the Directive.
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    Reasoned Opinion >
    Letter of formal Notice
  • Commission approves Dutch recapitalisation of SNS REAAL
    28 January 2010
    The Commission approved the recapitalisation of the Dutch bancassurance company SNS REAAL after a detailed assessment of the company's viability plan. The plan confirms that SNS has a viable business model, while ensuring a sufficient own contribution of the company to the restructuring costs and limiting undue distortions of competition.
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  • Commission approves aid for new 400 MW thermal power plant in Latvia
    28 January 2010
    The Commission authorised aid that Latvia intends to grant for the construction and operation of a 400 MW thermal power plant between 2015 and 2025. The Commission found the measure to be in line with EU state aid rules, because it is proportionate and contains safeguards minimising potential distortions of competition.
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  • Commission approves Spanish recapitalisation scheme for credit institutions
    28 January 2010
    The Commission found the scheme to be in line with EU state aid rules, because it is limited in time and scope, requires market-oriented remuneration and contains enough incentives to redeem the state participation over time.
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  • Commission authorises €576 million Spanish film support scheme
    27 January 2010
    The Commission approved Spain’s national film support measures including film production and distribution. The Commission found that the measures were in line with EU state aid rules that allow aid for furthering cultural objectives.
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  • Commission opens in-depth inquiry into preferential electricity tariffs for Aluminium of Greece
    27 January 2010
    The Commission opened an in-depth investigation to establish whether electricity tariffs granted by the Greek state-owned Public Power Corporation to Aluminium of Greece constitute illegal state aid.
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  • Overview of national measures adopted as a response to the financial/economic crisis
    27 January 2010
  • Commission clears annual financing regime for Dutch public service broadcasters after amendments
    26 January 2010
    The Commission approved the annual financing regime for the Dutch public service broadcasters in light of amendments made to the financing regime and formal commitments submitted by the Dutch authorities. The implementation of the commitments will inter alia clarify the definition of the public service remit and the entrustment of new media services and will limit the financing to what is necessary to fulfil the broadcasters' public service tasks. The Commission therefore concluded that the commitments were a suitable means to ensure compliance with EU state aid rules.
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  • Commission completes its investigation into the unlimited guarantee for the French Post Office
    26 January 2010
    The Commission closed its investigation into the unlimited state guarantee enjoyed by the French Post Office (La Poste) because of its special status as a public body, following the adoption by the French Parliament of a law transforming La Poste into a public limited company. This will have the effect of removing the guarantee.
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  • Commission approves liquidation of Bradford & Bingley
    25 January 2010
    The Commission approved UK Government measures granted for the liquidation of Bradford & Bingley. Following Bradford & Bingley's split-up and nationalisation of the part containing the impaired assets in 2008, the UK authorities notified a liquidation plan for the bank. The Commission has authorised the measures, because they are appropriate and necessary for an orderly winding down of the bank while taking into account the necessity to preserve the confidence of creditors in the financial system.
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  • Commission approves aid for restructuring of Dunfermline Building Society
    25 January 2010
    The Commission approved aid given by the UK authorities to facilitate the restructuring of the Dunfermline Building Society. Dunfermline was split-up, after which the part containing the good assets and liabilities was sold in an auction to a competitor with a financial contribution by the UK State of over £1.5 billion. The part containing the impaired assets was put into administration. The Commission found that the orderly break-up of Dunfermline resulted in the return to viability of the good part that was sold. The Commission furthermore concluded that there was sufficient burden-sharing as subordinated debt-holders contributed to the restructuring as much as possible and that the liquidation of a substantial part of Dunfermline limited the distortion of competition caused by the aid.
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Published by the Competition Directorate General of the European Commission. The content of this publication does not necessarily reflect the official position of the European Commission. Neither the Commission nor any person acting on its behalf is responsible for the use which might be made of the above information.

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