Competition weekly news summary
Friday, March 25, 2011

Conferences and Speeches

  • Reforms and the restructuring of the financial system
    La reestructuración del sistema financiero, conferencia organizada por la Fundación de las Cajas de Ahorros, Madrid, Joaquín Almunia
    24 March 2011
    "(...) the process is clear and it is strictly followed, the criteria are uniform and well known and, at the end of the day, the final objective is very simple: we cannot afford the luxury of continuing to inject large sums of taxpayers' money into banks, unconditionally and even less so, on a permanent basis. The only entities that we can save are those that prove to be open to restructuring, in order to be able to operate under the new financial supervision framework as strong and viable institutions."
    Read full speech in Spanish >
  • SGEI reform and the application of competition rules to the financial sector
    ECON Committee, Brussels, 22 March 2011
    "The new guidelines will take better account of the huge diversity of SGEI in Europe, which range from large-scale commercial services to social services delivered at a local level – such as home care for the elderly. Therefore, I would like to introduce the principle that our control should be more diversified, more proportional, and better adapted to the nature of the services provided. This means that the rules for certain social and local services that have little or no impact in terms of competition law should be simplified."
    Read full speech >

Mergers

  • Commission clears proposed takeover of Spanish metal food can manufacturer Mivisa by Blackstone
    25 March 2011
    Blackstone does not have a controlling interest in any company active in the same market as Mivisa. Via Stolle Machinery it is engaged in the market of food can and can-end making machinery, an activity that is vertically related to Mivisa's activities. But the Commission's investigation confirmed that the merged entity could not hinder the access of food can producers to food can making machinery or to spare parts. Also food can manufacturers will have access to a sufficient customer base after the transaction.
    Read more >
  • Commission approves acquisition of Siemens IT Services by Atos Origin
    25 March 2011
    The Commission’s examination showed that the combined market shares and the increment stemming from the transaction remain limited for most markets. Furthermore, Atos Origin will continue to face several strong, effective competitors with significant market shares as well as potential new competitors from emerging countries. Lastly, customers are to a large extent sophisticated buyers with an important degree of buyer power.
    Read more >
  • Commission clears acquisition of logistics company TDG by rival Norbert Dentressangle
    21 March 2011
    The transaction leads to horizontal overlaps between the activities of Norbert Dentressangle and TDG, mainly in the UK. However, in the markets for contract logistics, freight forwarding and road freight transport, the combined entity achieves only rather moderate market shares. The Commission also examined the parties' position in possible narrower markets, including in particular the UK markets for contract logistics and for road freight transport of hazardous goods. The investigation showed that the merged entity would continue to face competition from a number of important players also in such narrower markets.
    Read more >

State aid

  • Commission endorses public service compensation for UK Post Office Ltd
    23 March 2011
    The Commission authorised £180 million (€212 million) for the funding of the UK Post Office's network during one year starting 1 April 2011. The Commission also authorised the continuation, over the same period, of existing loan facilities funding the provision of cash services at post office counters. The Commission concluded that the aid is compatible with EU rules because it does not overcompensate the net costs of the important public service tasks entrusted to Post Office Ltd. and so does not give the Post Office any unfair competitive advantage.
    Read more >
  • Commission moves towards reform of State aid rules on Services of general economic interest
    23 March 2011
    The Commission's communication on the revision of EU state aid rules on Services of General Economic Interest (SGEI) and the report on their application show that these rules have brought increased legal certainty for Member States and for the service providers. The revision of the SGEI package due in November this year shows, nevertheless, that certain aspects could be further clarified and the rules further simplified regarding small amounts of aid and compensation for social services. The Commission also considers increasing the link between costs and efficiency and quality of services for large commercial activities, such as those of network industries with a clear EU-wide dimension.
    Read more >
  • Commission clears €18.75 million aid for Solar Factory's third solar modules plant in Freiberg, Germany
    23 March 2011
    The Commission authorised €18.75 million of regional investment aid for the German company Solar Factory GmbH, a subsidiary of SolarWorld AG, for the production of solar modules in Freiberg (Saxony). The Commission found the measure to be in line with EU state aid rules, because, on balance, the positive effects of the investment on regional development outweigh potential distortions of competition induced by the aid.
    Read more >
  • Commission opens in-depth investigation into grants for new oil-shale fuelled power plants in Estonia
    23 March 2011
    The Commission opened an in-depth investigation into an Estonian project to grant state support of up to €1.5 billion spread over 20 years to the operators of two newly-constructed 300 MW power plants. The aid would be paid for the mere availability of the plants, provided that they are mainly fuelled with oil-shale, a hydrocarbon widely available in Estonia. Estonia claims that the aid is necessary to increase the security of energy supply. While the Commission acknowledges the importance of securing energy supplies, it has, at this stage, doubts that the proposed Estonian measure would be the least distortive means to achieve this objective. In particular, large-scale subsidies would be allocated over a long period without a tender procedure. This could result in discouraging investment into alternative technologies in Estonia and in neighbouring Member States and in crowding out competitors, who would have to operate without such aid.
    Read more >
  • Commission approves Danish Government financing for new public radio channel FM4
    23 March 2011
    The Commission authorised plans by Denmark to establish a new public service radio, channel FM4. The Commission found the project to be in line with EU state aid rules because the providers' public service remit is clearly defined, the selection process is conducted through an open tender procedure and there are sufficient safeguards to avoid overcompensation.
    Read more >
  • Commission refers Italy to Court for failure to recover incompatible aid from Alcoa
    23 March 2011
    The Commission decided to refer Italy to the European Court of Justice for not complying with a Commission decision of 19 November 2009 that found that Alcoa Trasformazioni had received unlawful state aid and needed to repay it. To date, Italy has not recovered the aid from Alcoa.
    Read more >
  • Commission approves €19.2 million training aid for Italian car producer De Tomaso SpA
    23 March 2011
    The Commission authorised an Italian grant of €19.2 million to sports car producer De Tomaso SpA to train its workforce in Grugliasco (Piedmont) and Guasticce (Tuscany). The Commission found the aid to be in line with EU state aid rules because, on balance, the positive effects of the project outweigh any distortions of competition brought about by the aid.
    Read more >

Court

  • Cases T-375/06 – T-379/06, T-381/06, T-382/06 and T-384/06 – T-386/06 IMI and others / Commission
    24 March 2011
    The General Court ruled on ten appeals against a Commission decision of 2006 that had imposed fines on several companies for operating a cartel in the market for copper fittings. The General Court entirely rejected seven of the ten appeals. In two cases the Court reduced the fine slightly and in one case of succession of responsibility between undertakings the Court annulled the fine.
    Read full judgment in Viega case >
    Read full judgment in Legris case >
    Read full judgment in Comap case >
    Read full judgment in IMI case >
    Read full judgment in Kaimer case >
    Rread full judgment in FRA.BO case >
    Read full judgment in Tomkins case >
    Read full judgment in IBP case >
    Read full judgment in Aalberts case >
    Read full judgment in Pegler case >
    Read more about initial Commission decision >
  • Joined cases T-443/08 and T-455/08 Mitteldeutsche Flughafen and Freistaat Sachsen / Commission
    24 March 2011
    The General Court ruled on appeals against a Commission decison of 2008 on the financing of the southern runway at Leipzig-Halle airport. The Court ruled that the construction of airport infrastructure is an economic activity and that public funding of infrastructure necessary for the operation of the airport alleviates the costs that the airport operator would normally have to bear and therefore constitutes state aid. The only plea upheld by the Court concerns the quantification of the aid at €350 million without deducting the costs which are of a non-economic nature (security, air traffic control, police, and customs). Therefore, the General Court partially annulled Article 1 of the decision to the extent it determined the amount of State aid.
    Read more >
    Read full judgment >
    Read more about initial Commission decision >
  • C-369/09 ISD Polska and others / Commission
    24 March 2011
    The Court of Justice ruled on an appeal against a CFI judgment of 2009 that had upheld a Commission decision of 2005 finding state support for Polish steel producer Huta Czestochowa incompatible with the Internal Market. The CoJ rejected the appeals and confirmed the Commission's decision.
    Read full judgment >
    Read more about initial Commission decison >
  • T-419/03 Altstoff Recycling Austria / Commission
    22 March 2011
    The General Court ruled on an appeal by the Austrian waste collector ARA against a Commission decision of 2003. The 2003 decision had linked the exemption of certain contracts between ARA and its collectors from Article 81 EC to certain obligations aimed at ensuring competitors' access to the infrastructure run by the collecotors. The Court entirely up-held the Commission decision and rejected the appeal.
    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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