Competition weekly news summary
Friday, July 15, 2011

Conferences and speeches

  • Competition policy in 2010 and the SGEI reform
    European Parliament, ECON Committee, Brussels, Joaquín Almunia
    12 July 2011
    "Competition policy has grown into a vital factor for the success of the European project. Everyone recognises the importance of an EU-wide, authoritative and independent agency devoted only to the general interest. Our control can make some people unhappy on occasions but everyone benefits from it in the long run".
    Read more >

Competition

  • 8th ECN News Brief published
    14 July 2011
    The ECN, a network of the Member States’ competition authorities and the European Commission, has published the 8th edition of its trimestrial news brief. This issue covers the period from mid-April to July 2011. It presents a wide range of news relating to enforcement actions as well as relevant legislation and policy information.
    Read more >
  • 2010 was a very active year in competition enforcement and reforms, annual report shows
    12 July 2011
    The year 2010 was important for the Commission in enforcing and reforming EU competition rules, in the interest of both consumers and businesses. Last year saw a near-record amount of fines imposed on companies for operating cartels and was busy dealing with support measures for banks in the context of the financial and economic crisis. On the policy front, new rules were adopted on both horizontal and vertical agreements.
    Read more >

Antitrust

  • Commission opens formal proceedings against Czech electricity incumbent CEZ
    15 July 2011
    The Commission has opened formal anti-trust proceedings to investigate whether CEZ, the incumbent Czech electricity producer, may have abused its dominant position on the Czech electricity market, in particular by hindering the entry of competitors.
    Read more >
  • Commission investigates possible foreclosure of competitors from Austrian markets for management of packaging waste
    15 July 2011
    The Commission has opened formal antitrust proceedings because of concerns that the Austrian waste management company ARA may hinder its competitors to enter or expand their positions on the markets for the management of household and commercial packaging waste.
    Read more >

Mergers

  • Commission approves acquisition of Finnish paper company Myllykoski Group by UPM-Kymmene
    13 July 2011
    The Commission has cleared the proposed acquisition of Myllykoski Corporation and Rhein Papier GmbH ("the Myllykoski Group") by UPM-Kymmene Corporation ("UPM"). Both groups are active in the paper and pulp industries. The Commission's in-depth investigation confirmed that the merged entity would continue to face competition from a number of other strong competitors and that customers would still have sufficient alternative suppliers in all markets concerned.
    Read more >

State aid

  • Commission temporarily approves rescue aid for merged entity Educational Building Society/Allied Irish Banks
    15 July 2011
    The Commission has granted temporary approval to a recapitalisation worth up to €13.1 billion of AIB/EBS, an entity resulting from the merger of Allied Irish banks plc and Educational Building Society, by the Irish authorities. In particular, the Commission found the measure to be necessary to increase the bank's solvency ratios, to enable it to resist stress situations, and to preserve stability on the Irish financial markets.
    Read more >
  • Greece needs to recover around €17 million from Aluminium of Greece
    13 July 2011
    The Commission concluded that lower electricity tariffs granted in 2007-2008 by the Greek state-owned Public Power Corporation to Aluminium of Greece conferred an undue advantage to the company and must be recovered from the beneficiary. The Commission also investigated the financing of a gas pipeline by the state-owned Public Gas Corporation, connecting Aluminium of Greece to the national gas grid, but concluded that it was carried out on market terms and did therefore not involve state aid.
    Read more >
  • Commission opens in-depth inquiry into restructuring aid to Greek railway company TRAINOSE
    13 July 2011
    The Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to verify whether six restructuring measures in favour of the Greek state-owned railway company TRAINOSE are in line with EU state aid rules. At this stage, the Commission considers that Greece has not demonstrated that the measures are either free of aid or can be found compatible with EU state aid rules.
    Read more >
  • Commission approves Romanian Green Certificates renewable energy support scheme
    13 July 2011
    The Commission found a Romanian project to support the production of energy from renewable energy sources in line with EU state aid rules, in particular, because it creates clear incentives for an increased use of renewable energy, while containing safeguards to limit distortions of competition.
    Read more >
  • Commission orders recovery of incompatible state aid in favour of Bulgaria's Ruse Industry
    13 July 2011
    After an in-depth investigation, the Commission concluded that the Bulgarian metal manufacturer Ruse Industry, now in bankruptcy proceedings, has received incompatible subsidies in the form of unpaid debts to the State of around €3.7 million. The Commission found that a private creditor would have sought the repayment of the debt sooner and more effectively. This creates distortions of competition vis à vis other companies, who had to operate their businesses without such support and were subject to the discipline of credit markets.
    Read more >
  • Commission finds aid for Finnish Property Company Ålands Industrihus incompatible with EU state aid rules and orders recovery
    13 July 2011
    The Commission found that financing granted by the local government of Åland to Ålands Industrihus Ab, a state-owned commercial property company, was well below market prices and therefore incomaptible with EU state aid rules.
    Read more >
  • Commission opens 3 in-depth state aid investigations in air transport in France, Germany and Ireland; clears Dutch air passenger tax
    13 July 2011
    The Commission has opened three separate in-depth state aid investigations regarding the Marseille and Frankfurt Hahn airports as well as lower taxes for air passengers in Ireland, that benefit almost exclusively domestic flights. The Commission has also approved the Dutch air passenger tax system, because it did not favour certain operators in comparison with others.
    Read more >
  • Decisions on regional investment aid for BMW, Volkswagen, Globalfoundries and CRS Reprocessing in Germany and AU Optronics in Slovakia
    13 July 2011
    The Commission authorised investment aid that Germany intends to grant to Globalfoundries in Dresden (Saxony) and CRS Reprocessing in Jena (Thuringia). It also cleared a Slovak aid for AU Optronics in Trencín (Western Slovakia). In all three cases the Commission concluded that the aid complied with the regional aid rules because the relevant thresholds regarding the beneficiaries' market shares and the increase in production capacity were not exceeded. In two other cases involving projects by BMW and Volkswagen in Eastern Germany, the Commission opened a formal investigation to verify whether the subsidies complied with the said guidelines.
    Read more >
  • Commission clears investment fund to support urban regeneration in Northwest England
    13 July 2011
    The Commission has cleared a UK investment fund that will support sustainable urban regeneration in the Northwest region of England, an objective of common interest promoted by the "Joint European Support for Sustainable Investment in City Areas" (JESSICA) initiative. With this first decision, the Commission has clarified the guiding principles for the assessment of similar support measures, that several Member States are currently envisaging.
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  • Commission temporarily approves rescue aid for Bank of Ireland
    11 July 2011
    The Commission has granted temporary approval to the recapitalisation of Bank of Ireland (BoI) by up to €5.35 billion. This follows from the calculations of the Irish central bank, in March this year, of the capital needed to deleverage and meet higher than normal loan-to-deposit ratios to be able to resist stress situations. The Commission's final approval of the new recapitalisation measures is conditional upon the submission of a new restructuring plan taking account of these additional measures.
    Read more >

Court

  • Cases T-189/06 and T-190/06 Arkema and Total Elf Aquitaine / Commission
    14 July 2011
    The General Court ruled on appeals against a Commission decision of May 2006 fining several companies for operating a cartel in the markets for hydrogen peroxide and sodium perborate. The Court entirely upheld the Commission's decision with regard to the two appeals, in particular with respect to parental liability and repeated infringements, and dismissed the actions.
    Read full Arkema judgment >
    Read full Total Elf Aquitaine judgment >
    Read more about initial Commission decisin >
  • Case C-303/09 Commission / Italy
    14 July 2011
    The Court of Justice found that by failing to recover incompatible aid from the beneficiaries, as requested by a Commission decision of October 2004, Italy had failed to fulfill its obligations under the Treaty. In the 2004 decision, the Commission had found that an Italian scheme providing aid for companies investing in municipalities affected by previous natural desasters were incompatible with EU state aid rules, isofar as the aid exceeded the damage effectively suffered by the beneficiaries.
    Read full judgment >
    Read more about initial Commission decision >
  • Case T-357/02 RENV Freistaat Sachsen / Commission
    14 July 2011
    The General Court ruled on an action for annullment against a Commission decision of 2002, that had found certain provisions of a support scheme for SMEs of the Land of Saxony incompatible with EU state aid rules. The General Court fully upheld the Commission decision and dismissed the apeal. In 2007, the General Court had annulled the Commission decison on procedural grounds, without examening the question of the compatibility of the aid. In 2008, the ECJ had set aside the General Court's ruling of 2007 and referred the case back to it for a material assessment.
    Read full GC judgment of 2011 >
    Read full ECJ judgment of 2008 >
    Read full GC judgment of 2002 >
  • Commission welcomes Court judgment in the Elevators and Escalators cases
    13 July 2011
    The Commission welcomes judgments by the General Court in cases T-138/07, T-141/07, T-142/07, T-144/07, T-145/07, T-146/07, T-147/07, T-148/07, T-149/07, T-150/07, T-151/07, T-154/07, which largely uphold a Commission decision of February 2007 fining Otis, Kone, Mitsubishi, Schindler and ThyssenKrupp for operating a cartel in the market for elevators and escalators. The Court dismissed the actions brought by Otis, Kone and Schindler in their entirety. The Court's judgments confirmed the Commission's position on important principles of EU competition law, such as the applicability of EU competition law to cartels operated on a national basis, the calculation of fines and reduction for leniency cooperation, the liability of parent companies and fine reduction for non-contestation of facts. The Commission notes that the fine imposed on ThyssenKrupp has been reduced by approximately € 160 million, as the increase of 50 % of the fine on ThyssenKrupp due to its participation in an earlier infringement was found to be incorrect.
    Read full ThyssenKrupp judgment >
    Read full Schindler judgment >
    Read full Otis judgment >
    Read full Kone judgment >
    Read more about initial Commission decision >
  • Six appeals in the synthetic rubber cartel case
    13 July 2011
    The General Court ruled on six appeals against a Commission decision of November 2006, fining several companies for operating a cartel on the markets for Butadiene Rubber and Emulsion Styrene Butadiene Rubber. The Court entirely upheld the fines against Shell and Dow, reduced the fines for ENI/Polimeri and annulled the decision with respect to Unipetrol/Kaucuk and Trade-Stomil because the Commission did not bring sufficient proof that these companies were party to the cartel.
    Read full Shell judgment >
    Read full Dow judgment >
    Read full Kaucuk judgment >
    Read full Unipetrol judgment >
    Read full Trade-Stomil judgment >
    Read full Polimeri judgment >
    Read more about initial Commission decision >
  • Four appeals in Gas Insulated Switchgear (GIS) cartel case
    12 July 2011
    The General Court ruled on appeals against a Commission decision of January 2007, fining several companies for operating a cartel on the markets for gas insulated switchgear. The Court entirely upheld Hitachi's fine and slighty reduced Fuji's fine by €200.000. The court confirmed in particular the Commission's findings regarding the participation of the applicants in a single and continuous infringement affecting trade within the EEA. The Court also annulled the fines of Toshiba and Mitsubishi, while upholding the Commission's finding of the infringement. The Court found that the Commission had used the wrong reference year for calculating the fines of Toshiba and Mitsubishi.
    Read full Hitachi judgment >
    Read full Toshiba judgment >
    Read full Fuji judgment >
    Read full Mitsubishi judgement >
    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.

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