Competition weekly news summary
20 December 2013


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Conferences and Speeches

  • Press conference on the competition decisions
    Berlaymont press room, Brussels, Joaquín Almunia
    18 December 2013
    "The existing rules on state aid for environmental protection will be thoroughly updated and their scope will be extended. For the first time, EU state aid guidelines will cover state aid in the energy sector in general and not only environmental aid." Read full speech >

Competition

  • Commission publishes fact sheet on interchange fees regulation
    20 December 2013
    In July 2013, the Commission adopted a legislative package in the field of payments, proposing a revised Payments Services Directive (PSD2) and a Regulation on Interchange Fees. The package is aimed at creating a modern EU wide payments market to the benefit of all stakeholders and consumers in particular. To facilitate the discussion on the draft interchange fees regulation, the Commission services have now published a short text, summarising the goals and content of the proposal.
    Go to factsheet >
  • ECN publishes December issue of ECN Brief
    19 December 2013
    The European Competition Network (ECN), made up of the Commission and Member States' competition authorities, has published the December issue of its ECN Brief. Among other news, this issue reports on the publication of several ECN Recommendations on investigative and decision-making powers. The next issue will be published in February 2014.
    Read full ECN Brief >

Antitrust

  • Commission accepts legally binding commitments from Deutsche Bahn concerning pricing of traction current in Germany
    18 December 2013
    The Commission has accepted commitments offered by the German railway incumbent Deutsche Bahn (DB) regarding its pricing system for traction current in Germany and made them legally binding. Traction current is the electricity used to power locomotives. The Commission had concerns that DB's pricing system, in particular discounts that only railway companies belonging to DB could obtain, may have hampered competition in the German markets for rail freight and long-distance passenger transport in breach of EU antitrust rules. To address these concerns, DB offered to introduce a new pricing system for traction current that would apply uniformly to all railway companies and should enable electricity providers not belonging to the DB group to directly supply traction current to railway companies. After DB amended its initial commitments proposal in light of the results of a market test, the Commission is satisfied that the final commitments remedy its competition concerns.
    Read more >

Mergers

  • Commission opens in-depth investigation into Telefónica Deutschland's acquisition of E-Plus
    20 December 2013
    The Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to assess whether the planned acquisition of E-Plus of Germany by Telefónica Deutschland (Telefónica) is in line with the EU Merger Regulation. Both companies provide mobile telephony services in Germany via their own respective mobile networks. The Commission has concerns that the transaction may reduce competition in the markets for retail mobile telephony and for wholesale access and call origination in Germany.
    Read more >
  • Commission approves acquisition of ground handling service provider Servisair by Swissport, subject to conditions
    18 December 2013
    The Commission has cleared the proposed acquisition of the ground and cargo handling service provider Servisair by rival Swissport. The clearance is conditional upon the divestment of Swissport's ground handling activities at Birmingham airport and Servisair's ground handling activities at Helsinki, London Gatwick and Newcastle airports, where the merged entity would have faced insufficient competition to avoid price increases for ground handling services. The commitments offered by the parties address these concerns.
    Read more >

State aid

  • Commission's competition service consults on draft rules on state aid for research, development and innovation
    20 December 2013
    The Commission's competition directorate-general has published for public consultation a draft framework setting out revised conditions under which Member States can grant state aid for research, development and innovation activities (R&D&I). After having analysed the comments by stakeholders, the Commission envisages adopting a new framework in spring 2014.
    Read more >
  • Commission's new on-line state aid benchmarking tool shows less aid to banks
    20 December 2013
    The most recent State aid Scoreboard shows that there was a sharp reduction in the outstanding guarantee support provided by Member States to the financial sector during the crisis.
    Read more >
  • Commission approves restructuring plan of Dutch bank insurance company SNS REAAL
    19 December 2013
    The Commission has found the restructuring plan of the Dutch bank insurance company SNS REAAL to be in line with EU state aid rules. The plan notified by the Dutch authorities will enable the company to become viable in the long term without unduly distorting competition in the EU internal market.
    Read more >
  • Commission consults on draft rules for state support in energy and environmental field
    18 December 2013
    The Commission is inviting comments on a proposal for revised state aid guidelines for assessing public support projects in the field of energy and the environment. This revision is part of a broader initiative to modernise EU state aid rules. The Commission proposes to extend the scope of the existing guidelines beyond the environmental field into the energy area and to clarify and simplify the assessment of state aid measures. Comments can be submitted until 14 February 2014.
    Read more >
  • Commission opens in-depth inquiry into support for energy-intensive companies benefitting from a reduced renewables surcharge
    18 December 2013
    The Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to examine whether the reduction granted to energy-intensive companies on a surcharge for the financing of renewable energy sources in Germany (the so-called "EEG-surcharge") is compatible with EU state aid rules. Under the Renewable Energy Law as amended in 2012 (EEG-Act 2012), energy intensive industries are granted reductions on the EEG-surcharge. The Commission will also investigate the reduction on the EEG-surcharge granted when a supplier sources 50% of his electricity portfolio from domestic renewable electricity ("green electricity privilege").
    Read more >
  • Commission opens in-depth investigation into UK measures supporting nuclear energy
    18 December 2013
    The Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to examine whether UK plans to subsidise the construction and operation of a new nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset are in line with EU state aid rules. In particular, the Commission has doubts that the project suffers from a genuine market failure.
    Read more >
  • Commission opens in-depth investigation into public funding of certain Spanish professional football clubs
    18 December 2013
    The Commission has opened three distinct in-depth investigations to verify whether various public support measures in favour of certain Spanish professional football clubs are in line with EU state aid rules. None of the measures was notified to the Commission, who was alerted by concerned citizens. The Commission has concerns that these measures provided significant advantages to the beneficiary clubs to the detriment of the clubs which have to operate without such support.
    Read more >
  • Commission approves French aid for construction and renovation of stadiums for UEFA EURO 2016 Championship
    18 December 2013
    The Commission has found French public support for the construction and renovation of nine stadiums in order to host the UEFA EURO Championship in 2016 to be in line with EU state aid rules. After the championship, the stadiums will continue to be available to clubs and citizens for social, sports and cultural events. The Commission therefore concluded that the measure will further the promotion of sport and culture without unduly distorting competition in the EU internal market.
    Read more >
  • Commission adopts revised exemption for small aid amounts (de minimis Regulation)
    18 December 2013
    Following three public consultations, the Commission has adopted a revised Regulation on small aid amounts that fall outside the scope of EU state aid control because they are deemed to have no impact on competition and trade in the internal market. Measures that fulfil the criteria of the Regulation do not constitute "state aid" in the meaning of EU rules and therefore do not need to be notified to the Commission for approval before they are implemented. The reform, which simplifies and clarifies the rules, is part of the Commission's State Aid Modernisation initiative. It will significantly reduce administrative burden for companies and Member States.
    Read more >
  • Commission consults on draft Regulation exempting more aid measures from prior notification
    18 December 2013
    The Commission is inviting comments from stakeholders on a draft revised version of the General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER). The Regulation exempts unproblematic categories of aid from prior Commission scrutiny, allowing Member States to grant such aid without notifying it to the Commission. The revised draft includes new categories of exempted aid and further simplifies the assessment, reducing the administrative burden for Member States and local public authorities. It will also improve the ex-post control of aid granted under this notification exemption. In light of the feedback received, the Commission will adopt the final Regulation in the second quarter of 2014.
    Read more >
  • Commission approves €93 million public funding for Polish rail company PKP IC for purchase of long-distance passenger trains
    18 December 2013
    The Commission has found that public funding of €93 million for the purchase of long-distance passenger rolling stock by the Polish passenger rail operator PKP Intercity (PKP IC) is in line with EU state aid rules. The project is aimed at increasing passenger transport by rail. It should also contribute to improving the country's territorial cohesion and the accessibility of individual regions. The Commission has found that this project will further EU cohesion and transport objectives without unduly distorting competition. This decision is on the compatibility of the project with EU state aid rules. It is without prejudice to the on-going assessment by the Commission under EU structural funds rules.
    Read more >
  • Commission authorises €36 million aid for investments in Greek electricity infrastructure
    18 December 2013
    The Commission has found that public support to seven projects aimed at improving and expanding the Greek electricity network complies with EU state aid rules. Those projects will contribute to ensuring the security of energy supply by improving the reliability of the national transmission system and thus enhance the functioning of the energy market. The Commission has concluded that the aid furthers major energy objectives and environmental policies of the EU without unduly distorting competition in the internal market.
    Read more >
  • Commission approves rescue or restructuring aid for five Slovenian banks
    18 December 2013
    The Commission has approved in five distinct decisions state aid measures in favor of five Slovenian banks. The Commission approved the restructuring plans of Nova Ljubljanska banka d.d. (NLB) and of Nova Kreditna Banka Maribor d. d. (NKBM), in particular because they will enable the banks to become viable in the long term without unduly distorting competition. The Commission also approved aid for the orderly winding down of Factor Banka d.d. and Probanka d.d., in particular because the distortions of competition created by the aid will be minimised by the complete market exit of the two banks. Finally, the Commission temporarily approved rescue aid in favor of Abanka Vipa d.d., for reasons of financial stability. The final decision will be taken in the context of the assessment of Abanka's restructuring plan, which Slovenia committed to submit within the next two months.
    Read more >

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.

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