Competition weekly news summary
6 December 2013


Conferences and Speeches

  • State aid Modernisation for an integrated EU energy market
    Eurelectric event, Brussels, Joaquín Almunia
    2 December 2013
    "From the outset I decided to broaden the scope of the existing environmental guidelines to cover the public financing of energy, for the simple reason that the objectives of sustainable, secure and affordable energy for Europe are closely linked to our climate policy. The new guidelines will help Member States invest better in their energy-policy choices to pursue common European objectives."
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Antitrust

  • Commission confirms inspections relating to potential restrictions on online sales
    5 December 2013
    On 3 December 2013, Commission officials initiated unannounced inspections in several Member States at the premises of a number of companies active in the manufacture, distribution and retail of consumer electronics products and small domestic appliances. The Commission has concerns that the companies concerned may have violated EU antitrust rules that prohibit anticompetitive agreements or concerted practices.
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  • Commission fines banks € 1.71 billion for participating in cartels in the interest rate derivatives industry
    4 December 2013
    The Commission has fined 8 international financial institutions a total of € 1 712 468 000 for participating in illegal cartels in markets for financial derivatives covering the EEA. Four of these institutions participated in a cartel relating to interest rate derivatives denominated in the euro currency. Six of them participated in one or more bilateral cartels relating to interest rate derivatives denominated in Japanese yen.
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  • Statement on Gazprom
    4 December 2013
    "I met today with Mr. A. Medvedev, deputy chairman of Gazprom, together with Mr. A. Yanovsky, Deputy Minister of Energy of Russia. This was a constructive meeting, during which Gazprom expressed its willingness to explore the possibility of a commitment based solution to the Commission's competition concerns. Gazprom announced that it would present draft proposals in writing in the coming days, which the Commission will assess."

Mergers

  • Commission cuts red tape for businesses
    5 December 2013
    The Commission has adopted a package to simplify its procedures for reviewing concentrations under the EU Merger Regulation. This package widens the scope of its simplified procedure to review unproblematic mergers, bringing the total ratio of cases treated under this procedure to 60-70%. The Commission has also reduced the amount of information required for notifying transactions in all cases, whether under the simplified procedure or not. This is expected to bring significant benefits for businesses and advisers in terms of preparatory work and related costs. The merger simplification package will be applicable as of 1 January 2014.
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  • Commission clears acquisition of Nokia's mobile device business by Microsoft
    4 December 2013
    The Commission has cleared the proposed acquisition of most of Nokia Corporation's devices & services business (the "D&S business") by Microsoft Corporation. The D&S business mainly produces and sells smartphones and feature phones. The Commission concluded that the transaction would not raise any competition concerns, in particular because there are only modest overlaps between the parties' activities and the links between Microsoft's mobile operating systems, mobile applications and enterprise mail server software with Nokia's smart mobile devices are unlikely to lead to competitors being shut out from the market.
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  • Commission approves acquisition of German and Dutch gas supply and storage joint ventures by Gazprom
    4 December 2013
    The Commission has cleared the proposed acquisition of (i) joint control over WINZ and Wintershall Services of the Netherlands and (ii) sole control over Wingas and WIEH of Germany by the Russian energy company Gazprom. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would not raise any competition concerns.
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State aid

  • State aid: Commission prolongs R&D&I framework by six months
    6 December 2013
    The Commission has extended the validity of its state aid framework for research, development and innovation (R&D&I) by six months, until 30 June 2014. That framework sets out the conditions under which Member States can grant state aid for R&D&I activities. The current rules entered into force on 1 January 2007 and were bound to expire at the end of 2013. The Commission intends to adopt a new framework in spring 2014, with a view to having new rules will in force on 1 July 2014. The revision of the R&D&I Framework, together with the revision of the General Block Exemption Regulation's rules on R&D&I aid, is embedded in the Commission's State Aid Modernisation initiative. The Commission will soon publish a proposal for a revised R&D&I framework for consultation.
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  • State aid: Commission prolongs shipbuilding framework
    5 December 2013
    The Commission has extended the validity of its framework for assessing state aid in the shipbuilding sector by six months, until 30 June 2014. The current rules were adopted in December 2011 and were bound to expire at the end of 2013. The provisions of the current shipbuilding framework will be integrated unchanged in two dedicated texts: regional aid to the shipbuilding sector will be assessed as part of the new regional aid guidelines, that will enter into force on 1 July 2014 and innovation aid for shipbuilding will be dealt with under the new Framework on Research, Development and Innovation, that is currently being revised. It is expected that the new Framework on R&D&I will also become applicable as of that date.)
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  • Commission approves £21 million aid to UK spacecraft manufacturer SSTL for development of low-cost radar satellite
    4 December 2013
    The Commission has found that UK plans to grant £21 million (around €24 million) support to Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) for the research and development (R&D) project NovaSAR are in line with EU State aid rules. The project aims to develop, launch and demonstrate a low-cost, medium-resolution, space-based Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellite including service demonstration and applications development. The aid addresses a genuine market failure without giving rise to undue distortions of competition.
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  • Commission approves € 21.3 million of aid to Soitec for the Guépard R&D project
    4 December 2013
    The Commission has found that aid granted by France to the Soitec group to help it conduct the Guépard research and development project complies with the EU rules on state aid. This project is aimed at developing a new concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) technology. The aid addresses a genuine market failure without unduly distorting competition.
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  • Commission authorises €945 million worth allocation of free greenhouse gas emission allowances for modernisation of Bulgarian electricity sector
    4 December 2013
    The Commission has concluded that Bulgarian plans to allocate €945 million worth carbon emission trading allowances free of charge to modernise the electricity sector are in line with EU state aid rules. The Commission found that the funds will be used for modernising production infrastructure, diversifying the energy mix or constructing new installations. This will contribute to opening up energy markets, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing the security of supply, in line with EU objectives, without unduly distorting competition in the internal market.
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  • Commission approves aid for innovative medical services in remote areas of Saxony
    4 December 2013
    The Commission has found German plans to support the setup of a platform for telemedicine services in eastern Saxony in line with EU state aid rules. The platform will allow providing medical services at a distance where the actors, for instance doctors and patients, cannot meet in the same location. The Commission concluded that, in line with EU objectives, the aid will make medical care more accessible for citizens, without unduly distorting competition in the Single Market.
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  • Commission opens in-depth investigation into tax exemptions given to certain Belgian companies
    4 December 2013
    The Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to determine whether Belgium’s implementation of a system of support for innovative companies is in line with EU rules on state aid. The Commission will examine in particular the terms on which a certain number of Belgian companies have benefited from tax relief.
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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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