Competition weekly news summary
19 July 2013


Antitrust

  • Commission sends statement of objections to ARA for suspected abuse of dominance on Austrian waste management markets
    18 July 2013
    The Commission has informed Altstoff Recycling Austria AG ("ARA") of its preliminary view that ARA may have abused its dominant position on the markets for the management of packaging waste (mainly packaging made of plastic and metal) in Austria by hindering competitors to enter or expand on these markets. Such conduct, if established, would harm competition and customers in violation of EU antitrust rules.
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Mergers

  • Commission approves acquisition of MEI by Crane, subject to conditions
    19 July 2013
    The Commission has cleared the proposed acquisition of MEI Group by Crane Co., both of the United States. MEI and Crane both manufacture various unattended payment systems. The clearance is conditional upon the divestment of a range of products and related assets in Canada and Germany. The Commission's preliminary investigation showed that the proposed transaction, as originally notified, would have raised competition concerns for certain types of unattended payment systems in the EEA. The commitments submitted by Crane address these concerns.
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State aid

  • Commission calls for recovery of tax benefits granted by Spain to certain Economic Interest Groupings (EIG) and their investors
    17 July 2013
    After an in-depth investigation, the European Commission has concluded that a Spanish scheme for the purchase of ships involving leasing and financing through tax relief is partly incompatible with EU rules on state aid. This scheme, which was set up in 2002, conferred a selective advantage on economic interest groupings and their investors over their competitors. Under European rules, the beneficiaries must now repay the aid to the Spanish state. In accordance with the principle of legal certainty, the Commission does not require the repayment of aid granted between the start of the scheme in 2002 and April 2007, when the Commission publicly declared a similar French scheme incompatible.
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  • Commission opens in-depth investigation into amended Spanish tax scheme for acquisition of shares in foreign companies
    17 July 2013
    The Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to verify whether the new interpretation of a Spanish scheme allowing tax deductions in connection with the acquisition of shareholdings in non-Spanish companies is in line with EU state aid rules. The Commission had found the original version of the scheme incompatible with the state aid rules because it gave the beneficiaries a selective economic advantage over their competitors performing domestic acquisitions. According to consistent administrative practice, the original scheme applied only to direct acquisitions, whereas the new Spanish interpretation would retroactively allow tax deductions also for indirect acquisitions. At this stage, the Commission considers that the amended scheme may again involve state aid and has doubts as regards the compatibility of such aid.
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  • Commission opens in-depth inquiry into transfer of cable infrastructures to French telecom operator Numéricâble
    17 July 2013
    The Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to verify whether the transfer of public cable infrastructure between 2003 and 2006 by several French municipalities to the French Telecom operator Numéricâble was in line with EU state aid rules. As Numéricâble received the infrastructure for free, the transfers gave the company a huge economic advantage over its competitors and therefore constitute state aid. At this stage, the Commission has doubts that such aid could be found compatible with EU rules.
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  • Commission approves support for transformation of Latvian Mortgage and Land Bank
    17 July 2013
    The Commission has found support granted by Latvia for the transformation of the Latvian Mortgage and Land Bank (MLB) to be in line with EU state aid rules. In particular, the sale of MLB's commercial assets and its subsequent exit from the commercial banking market will minimise the distortions of competition brought about by the state support.
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  • Commission consults on reform of Regulation for small aid amounts (de minimis Regulation)
    17 July 2013
    After amendments resulting from a public consultation in March 2013, the Commission is inviting comments on a second draft for a revised Regulation on small aid amounts (so-called "de minimis" aid). According to this Regulation, aid measures below a certain ceiling do not constitute state aid in the meaning of EU rules because they have no impact on competition and trade in the internal market. Measures that fulfil the criteria of the Regulation therefore do not need to be notified to the Commission for approval before they are implemented. The revised draft simplifies and clarifies the criteria and proposes the introduction of a mandatory register of de minimis measures after a transition period.
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  • Commission approves €24.2 million of aid to Valeo for the development of a new hybridisation system for petrol-engined vehicles
    17 July 2013
    The Commission has found aid granted by France to the car component manufacturer Valeo to conduct the “Essencyele” research and development programme to comply with EU state aid rules. The aim of this project is to develop an intermediate (or “mild”) hybrid system for petrol-engined vehicles capable of constituting a compromise between the existing “micro” hybrid technology (with a low-cost start-stop system, which generates limited CO2 emission gains) and expensive “full” hybrid solutions (with an electric drive mode, generating substantial emissions gains). The aid addresses a genuine market failure without giving rise to an undue distortion of competition.
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  • Commission refers Greece to Court for failure to recover incompatible aid from certain Greek casinos and from Aluminium of Greece SA
    17 July 2013
    The Commission has referred Greece to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for failing to comply with two distinct Commission decisions that ordered Greece to recover incompatible state aid from three Greek casinos and from Aluminium of Greece SA. In both cases, over two years after the Commission decisions, the full aid amounts have still not been paid back.
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  • Commission decides on two German support schemes for energy-intensive industries
    17 July 2013
    The Commission has adopted two separate decisions on German support schemes in favour of energy-intensive industries. Firstly, the Commission has concluded that a scheme compensating energy-intensive users for CO2 costs in their electricity price as of January 2013 is in line with EU state aid rules, in particular because it maintains incentives for the beneficiaries to further reduce their CO2 emissions. In contrast, the Commission found that a 2009 scheme supporting non-ferrous metal producers was incompatible with the internal market, in particular because it would have entailed serious distortions of competition to the detriment of producers in other Member States.
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  • Commission approves aid for new multipurpose nuclear reactor in the Netherlands
    17 July 2013
    The Commission has concluded that a loan of €80 million to be granted by the Dutch authorities to support the construction of a new multipurpose nuclear reactor in Petten (region of Noord-Holland) is in line with EU state aid rules. The Commission found, in particular, that the aid will contribute to the security of supply of medical radioisotopes for the benefit of European patients and to other objectives of common interest without unduly distorting competition in the internal market.
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Court

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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, 2013. Reproduction is authorised provided the source is acknowledged.

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