Competition weekly news summary
Friday, October 29, 2010

Conferences and Speeches

  • Competition policy for an open and fair digital economy
    Second NEREC Research Conference on Electronic Communications, Madrid, Joaquín Almunia
    29 October 2010
    "My assumption is that European citizens and business will benefit from innovative digital services on two conditions: that broadband networks are widely available at reasonable costs, and that digital markets remain competitive and open to innovation." Read more >
  • 3rd Forum on Social Services of General Interest
    Belgian EU Presidency, Brussles, Joaquín Almunia
    26 October 2010
    "In particular, we need to clarify the distinction between services of general interest and services of general economic interest. This is crucial because assessment under competition law only applies to the latter case."
    Read more >
  • Compliance and Competition policy
    Businesseurope & US Chamber of Commerce Competition conference, Brussels, Joaquín Almunia
    25 October 2010
    "To those who ask us to lower our fines where companies have a compliance programme, I say this: if we are discussing a fine, then you have been involved in a cartel; why should I reward a compliance programme that has failed? The benefit of a compliance programme is that your company reduces the risk that it is involved in a cartel in the first place. That is where you earn your reward."
    Read more >

Mergers

  • Commission approves joint-venture between EADS and ATLAS for maritime safety and security systems
    28 October 2010
    The Commission found that the planned transaction will not raise any competition concerns, because the joint-venture will continue to face a number of strong European and third country competitors. The joint-venture will also be constrained by the buyer power of sophisticated customers (mainly public authorities) which rely on open world-wide tender procedures to ensure effective competition.
    Read more >
  • Commission approves proposed acquisition of certain businesses of United Utilities Group by Veolia Group
    28 October 2010
    The Commission’s examination of the proposed transaction showed that the horizontal and vertical relationships between the parties' activities are limited and are therefore unlikely to lead to competition concerns.
    Read more >
  • Commission approves proposed acquisition of a stake by Dutch LWM potatoes group in Austrian frozen food producer Frisch & Frost
    26 October 2010
    The Commission's market investigation indicated that post-merger the market for the supply of deep-frozen potatoes would remain competitive, as the overlaps between the parties’ activities are limited and a number of alternative, well-established suppliers remain active in the EEA.
    Read more >
  • Commission approves acquisition of Autopista Trados M-45 by Finavias and Abertis
    25 October 2010
    In light of the small presence of the AXA Group, that controls Finavias, in the market for toll motorway concessions and the low risk of coordination between AXA and Abertis, the concentration does not raise any competition concerns.
    Read more >
  • Commission clears planned acquisition of SSL International by Reckitt Benckiser, subject to conditions
    25 October 2010
    The Commission has approved the proposed acquisition of SSL International by Reckitt Benckiser, both British pharmaceutical companies. The decision is conditional upon Reckitt Benckiser's commitments to divest SSL's brands for mouth pain relief products in the UK and Ireland, where the merged entity would have had a very strong market position. In the light of the commitments, the Commission concluded that the transaction would not raise competition concerns.
    Read more >

State aid

  • Commission refers Italy to Court for failure to respect Court ruling to recover illegal aid
    28 October 2010
    The Commission refered Italy to the European Court of Justice for failure to implement a judgment ordering the recovery of incompatible state aid from utilities with a majority public capital holding. Although the judgment dates back to 2006, the Italian authorities have still not completed the recovery. The Commission has asked the Court to impose penalties on Italy.
    Read more >
  • Commission opens in-depth investigation into Portuguese short-term trade insurance scheme
    27 October 2010
    The Commission opened an in-depth investigation into an export-credit and domestic trade insurance scheme put in place by Portugal in the context of the current financial crisis. In particular, the Commission needs to verify whether the pricing of the scheme which offers cover for export-credit and domestic transactions at below market prices is justified.
    Read more >
  • Commission opens in-depth investigation into property sale by Swedish Vänersborg municipality
    27 October 2010
    The Commission opened an in-depth investigation to establish whether the Municipality of Vänersborg (Sweden) sold a food production facility below its market value.
    Read more >
  • Commission approves €150 million aid for carbon capture and storage project in The Netherlands
    27 October 2010
    The Commission authorised The Netherlands to provide a €150 million grant for a CO2 capture and storage demonstration project to a joint venture between E.ON and GDF Suez. The Commission concluded that the aid is in line with EU state aid rules, because on balance, the positive effects of the measure outweigh the potential distortions of competition.
    Read more >
  • Commission finds aid for Hungarian fertiliser producer Péti Nitrogénművek partly incompatible
    27 October 2010
    The Commission concluded that part of a state support granted in 2009 to fertiliser producer Péti Nitrogénművek infringed EU state aid rules. After an in-depth investigation, the Commission found that loans amounting to around €88 million granted by the Hungarian Development Bank MFB and covered by state guarantees constitute state aid. The aid was found to be compatible with the Commission's temporary rules for the economic crisis but the remuneration paid by the company for the guarantees was insufficient and the State must recover the difference.
    Read more >
  • Commission opens in-depth inquiry into Greek measures in favour of United Textiles and its lending banks
    27 october 2010
    The Commission opened an in-depth investigation to establish whether measures granted by Greece between 2007 and 2010 in favour of United Textiles, a company in financial difficulties, are in line with EU State aid rules. In particular, the Commission has concerns that United Textiles received aid repeatedly since at least 2007, in breach of the EU rescue and restructuring guidelines. In addition, the Commission will investigate whether some of the measures could have transferred an undue advantage to the company's lending banks.
    Read more >
  • Commission opens formal investigation into possible infrastructure aid to German paper mill Propapier
    27 October 2010
    The Commission opened an in-depth investigation to establish whether a new wastewater plant and surrounding infrastructure built by the German state constitute state aid in favour of Propapier's paper mill in Eisenhüttenstadt. At this stage, the Commission cannot exclude that Propapier derives a predominant benefit from the infrastructure or part of it.
    Read more >
  • Commission approves Danish State support for the liquidation of Fionia Bank
    25 October 2010
    The Commission approved a package of Danish measures to liquidate Fionia Bank, a small bank that became insolvent in the wake of the financial crisis. The Commission found the liquidation to be in line with EU state aid rules, because the measure addresses a serious disturbance of the market while keeping the potential distortions of competition to the minimum.
    Read more >

Court

  • T-24/05 Alliance One International and others / Commission
    27 October 2010
    The General Court ruled on appeals against a Commission decision of October 2004, that had fined several companies for a cartel in the Spanish raw tobacco market. The applicants sought to annul the Commisson's decision insofar as it held them jointly liable for a fine imposed on a company controlled by them. The Court confirmed the Commission's approach for determining the liability of parent companies in this case, but ruled that one out of the three applicants could not be held jointly liable for the payment of the fine, because the Commission had not established that it had effectively exercised decisive control over the subsidiary in question.
    Read full judgment >
    Read more about initial Commission decision >
  • T-23/09 CNOP and CCG / Commission
    26 October 2010
    The General Court ruled on appeals against a Commission decision of October 2008, ordering the applicants to submit to inspections. The Court dismissed the appeals and confirmed the Commission decision in its entirety.
    Read full judgment >

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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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