Competition weekly news summary
21 September 2012

Conferences and Speeches

  • Universal Music Group/EMI Music
    Press conference, Brussels, Joaquín Almunia
    21 September 2012
    "In Europe, compact discs still account for the majority of sales, but the sales of digital music are rising and are expected to overtake CDs soon. So our investigation focussed on this booming digital market, where record companies license their songs to digital platforms such as iTunes and Spotify, or to telecom companies offering music to their clients as part of their subscription packages. In this environment, the process of innovation and the increased competition in digital music distribution need to be preserved despite the consolidation that is taking place in the market for recorded-music."
    Read full speech >
  • Competition enforcement in the knowledge economy
    Fordham University/ New York City, Joaquín Almunia
    20 September 2012
    Fortunately, there is a growing consensus on both sides of the Atlantic on the damage that the misuse of standard-essential patents can do to competition. The fact that we have received many complaints related to standards-essential patents also shows that there is a great need for guidance. I want to tell you that I am willing to provide clarity to the market through our enforcement. Having said that, I am also convinced that the industry needs to do its homework too. I expect the leading companies in the sector not to misuse their intellectual property rights. It is high time they look for negotiated solutions – I am tempted to call them ‘peace talks’ – that would put an end to the patent wars."
    Read more >
  • Perspective from the European Commission: Competition as a tool for sustainable recovery
    6th Annual Global Antitrust Enforcement Symposium, Georgetown Law, Washington DC, Joaquín Almunia
    19 September 2012
    "Reinforcing the Single Market and extending its scope lie at the core of Europe’s strategy for growth ­– which is our main priority these days. We need a genuine pan-European space without internal barriers where companies and other economic players can operate freely and without undue restrictions. This would create the best conditions for business to scale up operations and reach the size required to succeed in the global economy. But efficiencies of scale would not be the only benefit. In principle, in a seamless and well-regulated internal market every European company could challenge every other for the same business. The spur of such continent-wide competition would drive our economic actors to become more efficient, more innovative, and more open to the world. This is why the EU competition authority has traditionally taken a strong stance against those manufacturers that tried to prevent cross-border sales in Europe."
    Read full speech >
  • Speech at the International Center for Registration Law (CINDER)
    CINDER Congress, Amsterdam, Joaquín Almunia
    17 September 2012
    "A modern industrial policy in Europe cannot be based on the same wrong assumptions of the "picking winners" strategy that failed in the second half of last century. A company that is unable to compete freely in the Single Market will not succeed in the world markets. Only a pan-European marketplace can allow our companies to reach the size they need to take on their global competitors."
    Read full speech >

Competition

  • Commission signs EU cooperation agreement with China
    20 September 2012
    EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton, Zhang Ping, Chairman of the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission and Fu Shuangjan, Vice Minister of the State Administration of Industry and Commerce, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to increase cooperation between the European Commission's competition department and China's antitrust authorities. The Memorandum of Understanding creates a dedicated framework to strengthen cooperation and coordination between the Commission and two of China's anti monopoly authorities, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and the State Administration of Industry and Commerce (SAIC).
    Read more >

Antitrust

  • Commission market tests commitments proposed by Simon & Schuster, Harper Collins, Hachette, Holtzbrinck and Apple for the sale of e-books
    19 September 2012
    The Commission is inviting comments from interested parties on commitments offered by four international publishers - Simon & Schuster (CBS Corp., US), Harper Collins (News Corp., US), Hachette Livre (Lagardère Publishing, France), Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck (owner of inter alia Macmillan, Germany) – and Apple. The proposed commitments aim to alleviate concerns that these companies may have engaged in an anti-competitive concerted practice affecting the sale of e-books in the EEA.
    Read more >

Mergers

  • Commission clears Universal's acquisition of EMI's recorded music business, subject to conditions
    21 September 2012
    The Commission has approved the proposed acquisition of EMI's recorded music business by Universal Music Group. The approval is conditional upon the divestment of EMI's Parlophone label and numerous other music assets on a worldwide level. The Commission had concerns that the transaction, as initially notified, would have allowed Universal to significantly worsen the licensing terms it offers to digital platforms that sell music to consumers. To meet these concerns, Universal offered substantial commitments. In light of these commitments, the Commission concluded that the transaction would not raise competition concerns anymore.
    Read more >
    Frequently asked questions >
  • Commission approves acquisition of German-based IT company Magirus by rival Avnet of the US
    21 September 2012
    The Commission has cleared the proposed acquisition of the German Magirus by Avnet of the US, both distributors of information technology (IT) products. Given the competitive constraint exerted by alternative distributors and IT manufacturers, the Commission found that the proposed acquisition would not give rise to competition concerns.
    Read more >
  • Commission approves e-mobility joint venture between Austrian electricity provider Verbund and German technology firm Siemens
    20 September 2012
    The Commission has cleared the proposed creation of a joint venture between Verbund, the largest Austrian electricity provider, and Siemens of Germany, to provide e-mobility services across Austria. E-mobility services are needed for operating electric vehicles, including the provision of charging infrastructure, electricity from renewable sources and information services. The Commission's investigation confirmed that the operation did not give rise to any competition concerns, in particular because there is no overlap between the parties' activities.
    Read more >
  • Commission approves joint venture between Euler Hermes and Mapfre in delcredere insurance
    20 September 2012
    The Commission has cleared the proposed creation of a joint venture between the insurance companies Euler Hermes of France and Mapfre of Spain, which will encompass their respective delcredere businesses in Spain, Chile, Colombia and Mexico, as well as Mapfre's delcredere business in Argentina. Delcredere insurance protects policy holders against the risk of their clients' insolvency. The Commission's investigation confirmed that the operation would not raise competition concerns because it would not significantly alter the market structure in Europe.
    Read more >

State aid

  • Commission authorises investment aid for UK "energy from waste" gasification plant in Kingston upon Hull
    19 September 2012
    The Commission has concluded that UK plans to grant £19,9 million (around €22,9) investment aid to Energy Works for an "energy from waste" gasification plant in Kingston upon Hull are in line with EU state aid rules. The Commission found that the aid will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by using biodegradable waste to produce electricity and by diverting waste from landfill. Moreover, the project will contribute to the security and diversification of energy supply, in line with EU objectives.
    Read more >
  • Commission approves restructuring aid for Czech Airlines
    19 September 2012
    The Commission has concluded that restructuring aid amounting to CZK 2.5 billion (€100 million) granted to the state-owned air carrier Czech Airlines is in line with EU state aid rules. The Commission found that the restructuring plan adequately addresses the financial problems of Czech Airlines. A significant capacity reduction, efficient cost and revenues management and the sale of assets should ensure the company's long-term viability without continued state support, whilst avoiding undue distortions of competition.
    Read more >
  • Commission approves restructuring aid to Austrian bank ÖVAG
    19 September 2012
    The Commission has concluded that restructuring aid granted by Austria to the Austrian bank Österreichische Volksbanken AG (ÖVAG) is in line with state aid rules. ÖVAG received capital injections totalling €1 250 million, liquidity guarantees totalling €3 000 million and an asset guarantee of €100 million. The Commission found that the restructuring plan is suitable to make the bank viable in the long term, ensures that the bank and its shareholders sufficiently contribute to the cost of restructuring and minimises distortions of competition.
    Read more >
  • Commission orders recovery of €10 million unlawful aid from Slovenian ski maker Elan
    19 September 2012
    The Commission has ordered Slovenia to recover €10 million of state aid that it granted to the leisure equipment manufacturer Elan group in 2008. The Commission's investigation found that the 2008 capital injection was not in line with EU state aid rules, because a private player operating under market conditions would not have accepted to invest on similar terms. The capital injection therefore procured an undue economic advantage to Elan that its competitors did not have.
    Read more >
  • Guidance on application of general block exemption regulation (GBER)
    A set of frequently asked questions on the practical application of a regulation exempting certain categories of state aid from prior notification to the Commission (the General Block Exemption Regulation - GBER) is now available on the competition website. The document is meant to familiarise regional and local authorities as well as state aid beneficiaries with the GBER and help them to apply the rules. It also aims at providing clarifications and references in the context of the current review of the GBER.
    Go to guidance document >
    Read more about GBER >
    Read more about the review of the GBER >

Court

  • Case T-154/10 La Poste France
    20 September 2012
    The General Court ruled on an appeal against a Commisson decision of 2010 finding that the French postal incumbent "La Poste" had enjoyed an unilimited state guarantee that derived from its specific status as a public commercial body (Etablissement Public et Commercial - EPIC). The Court fully confirmed the Commission's findings, and in particular its approach for establishing the existence of the implicit guarantee.
    Read full judgment >
    Read more about initial Commission decision >
  • cases T-169/08 and T-421/09 Greek lignite
    20 September 2012
    The General Court ruled on appeals against two Commission decisions of 2008 and of 2009 regarding the impact of Greece's licensing policy for lignite on competition in the Greek wholesale electricity market. The Court annulled the Commission's decisions.
    Read full judgment on 2008 decision >
    Read full judgment on 2009 decision >
    Read more about the case >

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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, 2012. Reproduction is authorised provided the source is acknowledged.

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