Read the online version | ISSN 2600-2558
  19 March 2021

Competition Weekly e-news

Cases, Judgments, News

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State aid


Commission refers United Kingdom to European Court for failure to fully recover illegal tax exemption aid of up to around €100 million in Gibraltar

The European Commission has decided to refer the United Kingdom to the Court of Justice of the European Union for failing to fully recover illegal State aid of up to around €100 million, granted as a tax exemption for passive interest and royalties in Gibraltar, as required by a Commission decision. This case relates to facts that took place before the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union.



Commission approves French scheme to compensate ski lifts operators for damages suffered due to coronavirus outbreak

The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, a French scheme with a budget between €140 and €700 million to compensate ski lifts operators for the damages suffered due to the restrictive measures introduced by the government to limit the spread of the coronavirus.



Commission approves €350 million Finnish support to Finavia in the context of the coronavirus outbreak

The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, three Finnish measures, with an overall budget of €350 million, to support airport operator Finavia in the context of the coronavirus outbreak.



Commission approves around €350 million Finnish support to compensate Finnair for damages suffered due to coronavirus outbreak

The European Commission has found €351.38 million of Finnish support in favour of Finnair to be in line with EU State aid rules. The measure aims at compensating the airline for the damage suffered due to the coronavirus outbreak between 16 March and 31 December 2020.



Commission opens investigation into PPC's behaviour in the Greek wholesale electricity market

The European Commission has opened a formal antitrust investigation to assess possible abusive behaviour by Public Power Corporation (‘PPC') in the wholesale Greek electricity sector.



Commission clears acquisition of Eaton Hydraulics by Danfoss, subject to conditions

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the proposed acquisition of Eaton's hydraulics business (“Eaton Hydraulics”) by Danfoss. The approval is conditional on full compliance with the commitments offered by Danfoss.



The European Commission forms a Multilateral Working Group with leading competition authorities to exchange best practices on pharmaceutical mergers

The European Commission's Directorate General for Competition together with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Canadian Competition Bureau, the UK's Competition and Markets Authority, the U.S. Department of Justice, and three Offices of Attorneys General launched today a Multilateral working group to analyse the effects of mergers in the pharmaceutical sector. The working group was initiated by the FTC and is in line with close cooperation between national competition authorities.



Pometon v Commission

The Commission takes note of the judgment of the European Court of Justice that confirms the Commission’s decision of 2016 on Pometon SpA’s participation in the steel abrasives cartel.

Today’s judgment also brings clarity on the Commission’s approach for hybrid staggered settlement cartel cases.

The Commission also notes that the European Court of Justice has reduced the amount of the fine imposed on Pometon following its finding that the Commission had incorrectly determined the basic amount of that fine.



Commission v Poland & Commission v Hungary
The Commission takes note of the judgments by the Court of Justice of the EU which upheld the judgments by the General Court in the Polish retail tax and in the Hungarian advertising tax State aid cases. The General Court had annulled the Commission 2016 and 2017 State aid decisions concerning an Hungarian tax on advertising and a Polish retail tax respectively. In both cases, the Commission had concluded that the progressive tax rates on turnover granted a selective advantage to companies with low turnover over their competitors.

The Commission will carefully study the judgments and reflect on their implications.

See also:


Competition in a digital age

Speech by EVP Margrethe Vestager,
European Internet Forum,
17 March 2021.

[...] "the competition rules and the Digital Markets Act will work together in harmony, helping to make our digital markets work better for everyone.
And that’s the way it should be. The digital transition is reshaping our entire lives. And no one set of rules will make sure all these changes happen in a way that puts people first
." [...]

Public consultations

18/12/2020 - 26/03/2021

EU competition rules – revision of the Vertical Block Exemption Regulation
The Vertical Block Exemption Regulation expires on 31 May 2022. The Regulation exempts agreements between different levels of the same supply chain from the EU’s competition rules.

In a business environment reshaped notably by the growth of e-commerce, this initiative aims to revise the rules to:
  • provide up-to-date guidance
  • cater for business needs in accordance with competition rules.
The aim is to have revised rules in place for when the current rules expire.

See also: EU competition rules – revision of the Vertical Guidelines.

08/03/2021 - 05/04/2021

State subsidies – exemptions to approval requirement for the Green Deal and EU industrial and digital Strategies

Roadmap open for feedback:

National governments usually require EU approval for subsidies to domestic businesses, to avoid giving them an unfair advantage over other EU competitors.

Under the General Block Exemption Regulation, certain such subsidies can be exempt.


22/01/2021 - 16/04/2021

Consultation on the Notice on the enforcement of State aid rules by national courts
Public authorities, citizens, companies and organisations are welcome to contribute to this consultation. Contributions are particularly sought from the national courts and authorities dealing with State aid, academics and lawyers.

23/02/2021 - 20/04/2021

Review of the Communication on important projects of common European interest (IPCEI)
The evaluation of the Communication on important projects of common European interest undertaken in the context of the Fitness Check of State aid rules showed that the current provisions work well and are an effective tool to achieve the objective of facilitating the emergence of important projects of common European interest. However, some targeted adjustments are necessary ...

See also the Commission press release.

05/03/2021 - 28/05/2021

Collective bargaining agreements for self-employed – scope of application EU competition rules
This initiative aims to define EU competition law’s scope of application, to enable an improvement of working conditions through collective bargaining agreements – not only for employees, but also, under some circumstances, for the solo self-employed.

See also the corresponding press release.
New legislation
Antitrust   Mergers   State Aid
New Legislation    New Legislation    New Legislation 
'What's new?'    'What's new?'    'What's new?' 

Other relevant information:

Commission Decisions

SA Block exemptions

European Economic Area: EFTA State aid register, EFTA Block exemption information sheets and EFTA competition cases

Court: Judicial calendar of the Court

Miscellanea: European Commission Press corner: Latest Daily News and Base rates in force

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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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