Competition weekly news summary
7 December 2012

Conferences and speeches

  • The role of competition policy in times of crisis
    29th Annual AmCham EU Competition Policy Conference, Brussels, Joaquín Almunia
    6 December 2012
    "To those who call for a more relaxed competition control, I say that keeping markets level, open, and contestable is part of the solution, not of the problem. Particularly in these troubled times. To take the road of sustainable growth, Europe needs to launch structural reforms. Everyone agrees on this point. Competition enforcement is the cheapest and most effective structural reform I can think of. It is a reform that is deployed every day bringing direct and lasting benefits to our companies and to our citizens. At a time when people start to turn their backs on the EU, competition policy shows that Europe can make a difference."
    Read full speech >

Antitrust

  • Commission fines producers of TV and computer monitor tubes € 1.47 billion for two decade-long cartels
    5 December 2012
    The Commission has fined seven international groups of companies a total of € 1 470 515 000 for participating in either one or both of two distinct cartels in the sector of cathode ray tubes ("CRT"). For almost ten years, between 1996 and 2006, these companies fixed prices, shared markets, allocated customers between themselves and restricted their output. One cartel concerned colour picture tubes used for televisions and the other one colour display tubes used in computer monitors. Chunghwa, LG Electronics, Philips and Samsung SDI participated in both cartels, while Panasonic, Toshiba, MTPD (currently a Panasonic subsidiary) and Technicolor (formerly Thomson) participated only in the cartel for television tubes. Chunghwa received full immunity from fines for the two cartels, as it was the first to reveal their existence to the Commission. Other companies received reductions of their fines for their cooperation in the investigation.
    Read more >
  • Commission opens proceedings against Bulgarian Energy Holding
    3 December 2012
    The Commission has opened formal proceedings to investigate whether Bulgarian Energy Holding may be abusing its dominant market position in the wholesale electricity market in Bulgaria. The Commission has concerns that Bulgarian Energy Holding might be hindering competition on wholesale electricity markets in Bulgaria and neighbouring Member States through territorial restrictions.
    Read more >

Mergers

  • Commission approves acquisition of Belgian ground handling service provider Aviapartner by LBO France
    30 November 2012
    The Commission has cleared the proposed acquisition of Aviapartner of Belgium by WFS of France, ultimately controlled by funds managed by LBO France. Aviapartner and WFS both provide ground handling and other freight related services. The Commission's investigation showed that the merged entity would continue to face strong competition from ground handlers in all affected markets, that barriers to entry were generally rather low, thus allowing for possible new entrants, and that customers wielded significant buyer power.
    Read more >

State aid

  • Commission proposes to reform state aid procedures and exempt certain categories of aid from prior notification
    5 December 2012
    In the context of its State Aid Modernisation (SAM) initiative, the Commission has adopted proposals to amend two Council Regulations governing EU state aid control. The reform of the Procedural Regulation of 1999 is aimed at focussing state aid enforcement on the most significant distortions of competition in the internal market and to speed up decision making. The proposed amendments to the Enabling Regulation of 1998 would allow the Commission to adopt more block exemptions for aid with limited impact on the internal market, for example in the field of culture or innovation.
    Read more >
    Frequently asked questions on review of procedural regulation >
    Frequently asked questions on review of enabling regulation >
  • Commission approves emergency rescue aid for Austrian bank Hypo Group Alpe Adria
    5 December 2012
    The Commission has temporarily approved an emergency recapitalisation totalling €1.5 billion that Austria intends to grant to Hypo Group Alpe Adria (HGAA). The bank needs the aid to comply with regulatory equity ratios. The Commission temporarily approved the aid for reasons of financial stability.
    Read more >

Court

  • Commission welcomes Court of Justice judgment in AstraZeneca case
    6 December 2012
    The European Court of Justice (ECJ) dismissed an appeal brought by AstraZeneca against a 2010 judgment of the General Court (GC) which had upheld – to a very large extent - a Commission's decision from 2005. The Commission's 2007 decision had fined AstraZeneca €60 million for abusing its dominant position relating to its best-selling anti-ulcer medicine Losec. The ECJ ruled for the first time on a Commission decision on the abuse of a dominant market position in the pharmaceutical sector. The judgment is significant as it clarifies a number of issues of principle in relation to market definition, dominance and the concept of abuse in EU competition law. In particular, it confirms that misuses of regulatory procedures can in certain circumstances constitute abuses of a dominant position within the meaning of EU antitrust rules (Article 102 TFEU). The judgment also confirms the Commission's method to define the relevant product market and existence of a dominant position in the pharmaceutical sector.
    Read more >
    Read full ECJ judgment >
    Read full GC judgment under appeal >
    Read more about Commission's 2007 decision >
  • Case C-441/11P, Commission v Verhuizingen Coppens
    6 December 2012
    The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled on the Commission's appeal against a General Court (GC) judgment that had annulled a Commission decision of 2008, fining several companies for a cartel on the market for international removal services, insofar as it concerned Coppens. The ECJ set aside the GC judgment and concurred with the Commission that the GC should have annulled the contested decision against Coppens only partially, as Coppens participated at least in part of the infringement. The ECJ also reduced the fine imposed on Coppens from €104 000 to €35 000.
    Read full ECJ judgment >
    Read full GC judgment under appeal >
    Read more on the Commission's 2008 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, 2012. Reproduction is authorised provided the source is acknowledged.

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