Competition weekly news summary
Friday, March 11, 2011

Conferences and Speeches

  • EU merger control has come of age
    “Merger Regulation in the EU after 20 years”, co-presented by the IBA Antitrust Committee and the European Commission, Brussels, Joaquín Almunia
    10 March 2011
    "We are not against mergers as a matter of principle. On the contrary. Mergers can recombine the assets of the merging firms and generate synergies. They can bring about new products and processes and these, in turn, may trigger fresh rivalry with competing firms. Horizontal mergers can allow firms to lower costs, expand operations, and displace inefficient management. Vertical mergers often remove the so-called double margins and lead to lower prices. (...) But this is only part of the picture. The full picture is more complicated, because mergers can also harm consumers and the economy when, for example, they allow firms to have too much market power. Instead of locking in efficiencies, some mergers can lock out competition; and for a very long time. (...) Without merger control, we would see many more companies buying up their competitors, weakening the competitive structure of markets, and reducing incentives to innovate. The very existence of our system acts as a deterrent. Because we have merger control, we see very few attempts to merge to monopoly."
    Read full speech >

Competition

  • Vice President Almunia signs cooperation agreement with Russian competition authority
    10 March 2011
    Joaquín Almunia, Vice President of the Commission in charge of competition policy, and Igor Artemyev, Head of the Russian Anti Monopoly Service (FAS), have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to increase cooperation between the competition authorities of the EU and Russia. The Memorandum of Understanding provides a framework for administrative cooperation, dialogue and exchanges between the Commission's competition department and Russia's competition authority.
    Read more >

Antitrust

  • Commission welcomes steps taken by collective rights management bodies in Hungary and Romania to improve competition
    11 March 2011
    The Commission has closed a preliminary investigation into alleged anti-competitive practices by SCAPR, the international association of national performers' collective management organisations, and the national collective rights management organisations EJI (Hungary) and CREDIDAM (Romania). The Commission had concerns that these organisations may have implemented a restrictive membership policy, in violation of Article 101 of the TFEU, which prohibits restrictive business practices. The Commission welcomes the steps taken by these organisations to amend their practices.
    Read more >
  • Commission confirms unannounced inspections in rail freight sector
    10 March 2011
    On 8 March, Commission officials undertook unannounced inspections at the premises of companies active in the rail freight sector and related products industry in Baltic countries. The Commission has reason to believe that the companies concerned may have violated EU antitrust rules that prohibit cartels and restrictive business practices and/or the abuse of a dominant market position.
    Read more >

Mergers

  • Commission clears proposed takeover of Swedish automated door supplier Cardo by rival Assa Abloy
    10 March 2011
    The Commission’s examination of the proposed transaction showed that the activities of Cardo and Assa Abloy are largely complementary since they focus mostly on different types of doors and related services. While Cardo is to a large extent active in residential garage doors, industrial doors and after-sales service for industrial doors, Assa Abloy mainly provides automated pedestrian doors and related after–sales service and has only minor activities in the segments where Cardo has its focus. As a result the transaction leads to very limited horizontal overlaps which do not raise competition concerns.
    Read more >

State aid

  • Commission consults on new State aid Guidelines in the context of the EU Emission Trading Scheme as of 2013
    11 March 2011
    The Commission has launched a public consultation to prepare guidelines on how Member States can support sectors exposed to certain additional costs in the context of the 2013 EU Emission Trading System (ETS-3). The EU ETS was introduced in 2005 to promote the reduction of CO2 emissions and prevent climate change. For the 3rd trading period 2013-2020, the amended ETS Directive 2009/29/EC foresees that Member States may grant state aid in favour of sectors exposed to a significant risk of "carbon leakage". "Carbon leakage" is the result of the increase in the CO2 component of electricity prices (indirect emission costs) which firms may not be able to pass on or to bear. It occurs when global greenhouse gas emissions increase because companies, that cannot pass on this increased electricity costs generated by the CO2 costs to their customers, move their production outside the EU to countries where no CO2 constraints exist and reduce their EU-based share in world production. State aid for indirect emission would thus aim at mitigating this potential perverse effect of the ETS system. The deadline for replies is 11 May 2011.
    Read more >
  • Commission prohibits Austrian subsidies for energy intensive businesses
    8 March 2011
    The Commission found a provision of the revised Austrian Green Electricity Act (Ökostromgesetznovelle 2008), partially exempting energy intensive businesses from contributing to the funding of green electricity, to be in breach of EU state aid rules. After an in-depth investigation, opened in 2009, the Commission concluded that the new provision would have resulted in imposing extra costs on enterprises not qualifying for the exemption.
    Read more >
  • Commission approves Danish subsidy for purchase and operation of electric cars
    8 March 2011
    The Commission authorised approximately €2 million of public funding for a pilot program incentivising the purchase of electric cars. The scheme supports projects aimed at testing and test-running electric vehicles under realistic conditions and is expected to increase the number of wholly electrically propelled cars in Denmark, thereby decreasing the dependency on fossil fuel and reducing carbon dioxide emissions. The Commission concluded that the aid is unlikely to lead to significant distortions of competition in the internal market in view of the environmental benefits it will bring about.
    Read more >
  • Commission concludes that the Aero 2008 guarantee granted by France to aeronautic suppliers does not constitute state aid.
    8 March 2011
    The Commission concluded that a state guarantee, put in place by France to cover the exchange rate risk for aeronautic suppliers (Aero 2008) and administered by Coface, is in line with market principles and does not, therefore, constitute state aid within the meaning of EU law (Article 107(1) TFEU).
    Read more >
  • Commission temporarily clears support for Nova Ljubljanska Banka
    7 March 2011
    The Commission authorised an emergency recapitalisation of up to €250 million in favour of the Slovenian bank Nova Ljubljanska Banka (NLB). The Commission temporarily approved the measure for reasons of financial stability until it reaches a final decision on a restructuring plan for NLB which must be submitted within six months.
    Read more >

Court

  • T-37/05 World Wide Tobacco Espana / Commission
    8 March 2011
    The General Court ruled on an appeal against a Commission decision of 2004, fining several companies for operating a cartel in the Spanish raw tobacco markets. The Court entirely up-held the Commission decision and rejected the appeal.
    Read full judgment >
    Read more about initial Commission decision >

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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.

© European Union, 2011. Reproduction is authorised provided the source is acknowledged.

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