European Commission

24 Apr 2021

ESL: A Legal Perspective and Insights on the Football League that May Never Start

Introductory remarks There are many reasons why football is one of the world’s most successful and popular sports, and that Europe is its home.  As Rohan Roy said in his poem, football is “the most beautiful game”.  Although football has changed over the years, which was inevitable, it kept receiving support from its fans. Historically, adjustments to “the most important of the least important things” have been announced and introduced gradually, so that the core principles of football would survive. It is obvious that the fans and supporters were and always will be the reason for football’s worldwide success.  This […]

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02 Apr 2021

EU Digital Saga Continues – Digital Services Act: A Service to Consumers, but a Disservice to Businesses?

After a short break from our previous reflections on the EU’s new set of regulations concerning digital markets (more details available here), we are back with an even more vivid and thorough breakdown of the proposed regulation. To pick up where we left off, we will be taking a closer look at the Digital Services Act (“DSA“ or „Act“). As we have already familiarized ourselves with the EU’s goals and ambitions regarding new digital market regulation, we can now fully indulge ourselves by taking a closer look at the Act.  We hope that you managed to catch your breath because […]

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24 Mar 2021

Vertical Restraints in the Sights of the Commission for Protection of Competition

In the last few months, the Serbian National Competition Authority (“NCA”) has turned its attention to sanctioning agreements between undertakings where resale prices are maintained.  After taking cases against consumer electronics undertakings, the NCA recently opened an investigation against a general importer and its three car dealers of “Audi” vehicles, in the course of its sectoral analysis of the markets of sales and after-sales services of motor vehicles. Resale Price Maintenance – What is the Problem? Resale price maintenance (“RPM”) is a contractual provision where the supplier (usually the manufacturer or general importer) binds the buyer (usually the distributor or […]

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04 Dec 2017

3rd Chillin’ Competition Conference in Brussels – A Big League Success

Another year, another Chillin’Competition Conference Imagine for a second a conference where a bunch of “suits”, seasoned scholars and world-recognized experts & regulators spend an entire day laughing, exchanging quips & smug comments and trading Ryan Gosling and SpongeBob SquarePants inspired meme mugs.  Well that’s exactly what happened when over 350 scholars and practitioners of law & economics came together on October 25, 2017 at the Area 42, the “MOST WOW!” venue in Brussels.  Alfonso Lamadrid de Pablo and Pablo Ibañez Colomo, the driving force behind Chillin’Competition blog, world’s favorite source for the latest and greatest in competition law, have once again […]

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29 Nov 2017

The European Union Twists Amazon’s Arm – a Warning for Multinationals in Serbia?

The European Commission has recently concluded that Luxembourg has been granting an undue tax benefit to Amazon in the total amount of EUR250 million. Since Serbian tax authorities have the power to issue binding advance tax opinions—and given that multinationals commonly exploit this option without any consideration of state aid rules—the Commission’s Decision in the Amazon case should raise some eyebrows. The European Commission (Commission) continues its battle against alleged tax avoidance and has recently concluded that Luxembourg has been granting an undue tax benefit to Amazon in the total amount of EUR 250 million. This tax benefit was awarded […]

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16 Nov 2017

The Energy Community Recognizes “Serbian Menarini”

The Energy Community, the quintessential energy organization aiming to extend EU’s internal energy market and EU acquis to southeastern Europe and the Black Sea region, and create an integrated & sustainable pan-European energy market, recently published its 2016/2017 Annual Implementation Report (Report) (available for download), where it officially acknowledged our ongoing constitutional challenge against the Serbian Competition Act, secondary legislation and general regulations.  The report does a noteworthy job in properly identifying some of the key arguments set out in the constitutional challenge, particularly the criminal nature of competition proceedings, lack of procedural safeguards required by the ECHR, and that the […]

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08 Nov 2017

Gecić Law Advises in Yet Another Landmark Decision Before the European Commission

Gecić Law acted as legal counsel to the Government of Serbia and the Železara Smederevo steel mill with respect to an European Commission (EC) investigation on the historical State aid received by the old company, and the potential responsibility of Hesteel Serbia to reimburse it, under the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA).  On Wednesday, November 8, 2017, Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, informed the Prime Minister of the Republic of Serbia, Ana Brnabić, that the European Commission concluded that “the HeSteel-owned steel mill does not have to reimburse any state aid received in the past” (link).  […]

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25 Sep 2017

New Hope for Troubled CHF Borrowers?

On September 20, 2017 the Court of Justice of the European Union (the “CJEU“) issued so far the most significant judgment concerning the loans denominated in Swiss francs (the “CHF”). Namely, by judgment in case C-186/16 (Ruxanda Paula Andriciuc and Others v. Banca Românească SA), the CJEU ruled that a financial institution which grants a loan denominated in a foreign currency is liable to provide the borrower with sufficient information, in order to enable him to make a thorough assessment of economic risks and consequences of entering into such contract, and to make a prudent decision on this issue. The […]

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05 Sep 2017

When sharing is not caring: exchange of information in M&A transactions and Serbian competition law

This update considers how exchange of information, as an essential part of any M&A transaction (from pre-acquisition discussions, through the due diligence procedure, and up to the closing of the transaction), may cause significant competition concerns under the Serbian Competition Act in terms of potential collusion between competitors. The prohibition on entering into restrictive agreements under the current Serbian Competition Act (CA) applies, as a general rule, to sharing of commercially sensitive information between undertakings. Relevant provisions of the CA prohibit contracts, certain contract provisions, express or tacit agreements, concerted practices, as well as decisions of undertakings associations which have […]

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02 Sep 2017

Serbian Chamber of Commerce Proposes Total Revamp of Serbian Competition Law?

Recent developments in Serbia, in particular an unprecedented number of hastily opened investigations and Competition Commission’s push for a complete revamp of the competition act, discussed in a recent PLC article “The Dawn of Dawn Raids or the Twilight of Due Process in Serbia?”, raised many eyebrows and prompted significant dissent from both public and private stakeholders.  The widespread dissent took an interesting twist on August 21, 2017 when the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia (hereinafter: the Chamber of Commerce) issued an invitation for consultations to the members of its Assembly and Managing Board re the application and […]

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10 Jul 2017

The Dawn of Dawn Raids or the Twilight of Due Process in Serbia?

During the last ten days of May 2017, Serbian competition authority has hastily opened an unprecedented number of investigations.  Simultaneously, the authority announced a push for a complete revamp of the competition act.  Reviewing these developments through the lens of the New Administrative Act, which came into force on 1 June 2017, a strong argument can be made that behind these actions is a desire to circumvent the robust human rights safeguards introduced by the New Administrative Act and guaranteed under the ECHR and the Serbian Constitution. During the last ten days of May, the Commission for Protection of Competition of […]

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26 Jun 2017

Thresholds for Merger Control in Serbia – a Treasure Island of False Positives?

The Serbian 2009 Protection of Competition Act (as amended in 2013) (the Act) provides for rather low merger control thresholds, compared both to EU law and countries in the region. Thresholds set this low can (and usually do) result in excessive merger control which eventually brings more harm than good to market competition.  In order to put an end to this, a change in decisional practice and/or legislative change in regards to this important aspect of merger control is required. The Act provides for rather low merger control thresholds, compared both to EU law and countries in the region.  Namely, […]

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04 May 2017

Collaboration Without Notification? Certain Joint Ventures out of the Scope of EC Merger Regulation, Says CJEU Advocate General

On April 27, 2017, Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”),  Ms. Juliane Kokott, issued an opinion stating that not every creation of joint ventures ought to be under control of the European authorities: only formation of those joint ventures which are to be entirely autonomous, full-function entities should be subject to the official scrutiny. As per words of the opinion’s respected author, said issue, although technical in essence, holds a “practical significance” for national and European watchdogs on the one hand, and market undertakings, on the other, given that it tackles the matter of interpretation […]

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12 Apr 2017

EU Competition: Third Time’s a Charm? Not if you Ask the European Commission

On March 29, 2017, the European Commission (“Commission”) officially blocked the third attempt to implement the merger between the London Stock Exchange Group (“LSE”) and Deutsche Börse AG.  Said decision created an insurmountable obstacle to further cooperation of the two groups which was aimed at creating a European powerhouse able to compete with strong American and fast-emerging Asian financial markets. The long planned merger was to give rise to the world’s largest exchange by total income, the biggest for equities listings, and to an entity that would control more derivatives trades than any other entity in the world.1  It would […]

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23 Nov 2016

EU Competition Law: ‘Gun-jumping’ and the Russian Roulette is on!

On November 8 2016, the French Competition Authority (Competition Authority) imposed a fine in the dizzying amount of €80 million on Altice Luxembourg, a telecom-investment company, and its French subsidiary SFR on the basis of their ‘gun-jumping’ activities during the 2014 acquisition of SFR and Virgin Mobile.  After an unannounced probe, the regulator decided to institute said fine upon two companies in order to punish them for implementing their mergers prematurely, and to effectuate a deterrent for this type of antitrust activities among other companies. The unprecedented fine imposed on SFR and Altice is the first of its kind to […]

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22 Nov 2016

Neutrality Everywhere? A Brief Look at the Chillin’Competition Conference 2016

For the second year in a row Chillin’Competition conference drew practitioners, scholars and regulators from across Europe with a promise of an unparalleled array of distinguished speakers focusing on the topic of the neutrality principle and its role in competition law. And it certainly delivered! Alfonso Lamadrid, one of the founders of Chillin’Competition blog (seen giving the opening remarks above), started the conference by stressing the importance of discussing the concept of substantive neutrality, its meaning and scope of application in different fields of competition law. Keynote Address – Margrethe Vestager Keynote speaker Margrethe Vestager, EC Commissioner for Competition, delivered a […]

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07 Nov 2016

Does Commuting Equals Work? ECJ Clarifies

Results of one of the latest surveys recently carried out by British Regus, global work-space provider, have revealed that commuting is being experienced as a time waste for nearly one third of UK professionals, given that it does not fall within their working hours.  Said survey led to the actualization of a pivotal judgment rendered by the Court of Justice of the European Union (hereinafter: ECJ) in 2015, according to which such daily journeys undertaken by workers without a fixed or habitual place of work between their homes and the premises of their customers constitute working time. After processing obtained […]

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27 Sep 2016

EU State Aid: European Commission Bitting More Than It Can Chew?

McDonald’s might be the next company facing the obligation to pay back taxes, only this time to Luxembourg, in the amount of approximately $500 million, according to Financial Times estimates. In December 2015, the European Commission has opened a formal investigation of Luxembourg’s tax treatment in case of McDonald’s. It held a preliminary view that “a tax ruling granted by Luxembourg may have granted McDonald’s an advantageous tax treatment in breach of EU State aid rules.”1  The Commission is yet to render a decision that would conclude said formal investigation against American fast food giant and contain its final judgment […]

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02 Sep 2016

EU State Aid: Commission Goes After the Forbidden Fruit

“The European Commission has concluded that Ireland granted undue tax benefits of up to €13 billion to Apple [the biggest tax bill ever imposed outside the US]. This is illegal under EU state aid rules, because it allowed Apple to pay substantially less tax than other businesses. Ireland must now recover the illegal aid [indirect subsidies].“1 Following an in-depth state aid investigation of the “sweetheart fiscal deal” between Ireland and Apple, the European Commission has concluded that Apple received illegal tax benefits from Ireland through a favorable tax arrangement selectively provided to this company for a number of consecutive years. […]

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18 May 2016

Opening Pandora’s (in)Box: Social Media & Cartels?

At a recently held conference in Singapore the Director of the Cartels Directorate of DG Competition of the European Commission (the “Commission”) addressed the issue of investigative powers of the Commission and collection of evidence during dawn raids. In particular, they emphasized that the Commission has to “keep up with the technology” in order to effectively combat illegal price fixing and market sharing.  According to him, that could be achieved by finding ways to collect data from online social networks so to determine whether individuals are involved in infringement of competition rules. In that respect, it was emphasized that the […]

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28 Apr 2016

Airline Ticket Pricing and Distribution: The EU Code of Conduct Must Be Respected

The market for the distribution of airline tickets has recently come under the examination of the European Commission (the “Commission”). Upon receiving the formal complaint from the European Technology and Travel Services Association (the “ETTSA”)1, the Commission has sent questionnaires to carriers, travel agents, online reservation sites and global distribution systems asking for the information on exact contract terms and conditions between airlines, travel agents and computerized reservations systems. The main issue that should be determined is whether airlines are impacting customers to book tickets on their own websites rather than using travel agencies and other available computer reservation systems […]

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23 Mar 2016

Is Price Fixing in Agricultural Sector Exempted from General EU Antitrust Rules?

The French Court of Cassation, the highest court in French judiciary,  referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union (the “ECJ”) for the preliminary ruling certain questions related to interpretation on the intersection between farm policy in France under the Common Agricultural Policy (the “CAP”) and the EU antitrust legislation.  The referral stems from the 2012 case in which the French Competition Authority fined 10 growers of endives and seven associations in France with more than 4 million euros for price fixing, managing volumes of endives put on sale and exchange of information. Namely, according to the Article […]

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11 Mar 2016

Italian Concessions for Maritime Operators – A Tsunami for European Services Market?

On February 25, 2016, in the joined cases Promoimpresa srl v Consorzio dei Comuni della Sponda Bresciana del Lago di Garda e del Lago di Idro, Regione Lombardia, and Mario Melis, Tavolara Beach Sas, and Dionigi Piredda, Claudio Del Giudice v Comune di Loiri Porto San Paolo, Provincia di Olbia Tempio (hereinafter: Promoimpresa and others), Mr. Maciej Szpunar, an Advocate General at the EU Court of Justice of the European Union (the “ECJ”) since 2013, produced a nonbinding opinion for the ECJ stating that the European Union (the “EU”) law precludes national legislation under which the period of validity of […]

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01 Mar 2016

Slovak Telekom Case – a Reminder of Unexploited Antitrust Damage Claim Mechanisms in European National Laws?

After the European Commission (the “Commission”) by its decision from 5 October 20141 imposed a fine of more than 38 millions of euros on Slovak Telekom for the abuse of its dominant position on Slovak market for broadband services, Slovak Telekom has come to face damage claims from mobile operators Orange Slovensko and SWAN.  The said operators claimed damages they allegedly suffered before Bratislava court, in the amount exceeding 280 million euros on the grounds of the said Commission’s decision that found Slovak Telekom has abused its dominant position. By the same 2014 decision of the Commission, Deutsche Telekom was […]

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09 Feb 2016

Is Telenor Breaching Competition Rules in Norway?

On 1 February 2016 the European Free Trade Organization (“EFTA”) Surveillance Authority has sent a Statement of Objections to Telenor over the possible breach of EEA competition rules in Norway.  Telenor now has until 11 April to claim its position regarding the received antitrust charge sheet. Namely, the EFTA Surveillance Authority suspects that Telenor may have abused its dominant position in Norway, by obstructing competitors in three markets related to the provision of mobile communications services to Norwegian users: the market for wholesale mobile access and origination services, the market for mobile broadband services to residential customers, and the market for […]

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28 Jan 2016

Serbia Revamps Merger Control Procedure

On 23 January 2016 the Serbian Government adopted the new Regulation on the Content and Method of Submittal of Request for Issuing of Approval for Proposed Concentration (Official Gazette of RS no. 5/2016 – the “Regulation”) that will be effective as of 2 February 2016. The importance of the new Regulation lies in the fact that it introduces a simplified method for notification of the proposed concentration, harmonizing in that regards the national procedure with the existing EU procedure for notification of concentration. The simplified procedure allows merging undertakings to use a shorter notification form for concentration that are unlikely […]

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24 Dec 2015

EU Announces Sweeping Data Protection Reform

In a trilogue meeting held on 15 December 2015 the European Parliament, the European Commission and the European Council reached a political agreement to reform EU Data Protection policy.  The new policy has been in the works since 2011, but only now have the European Council and the European Parliament managed to reach an agreement on key issues.  The final text is expected to be formally adopted in early 2016, and its rules applicable two years thereafter.  During this period, 28 member states will be required to amend their existing data protection legislation, or to pass new legislation, whereas the […]

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10 Dec 2015

The European Commission Adopts a New Aviation Strategy

On December 7, 2015 the European Commission (EC) adopted a new Aviation Strategy for Europe that “will enable European aviation to flourish globally.”  The EC framed an all-inclusive policy encompassing the entire EU aviation ecosystem.  The new Aviation Strategy contains a list of priorities geared towards making the EU a leading stakeholder in international aviation by tackling restrictions on growth both in the air and on the ground, promoting EU safety and environmental standards globally, and by advancing carbon neutral growth through innovation, digital technologies, and investments.   The claimed added value of the Aviation Strategy is that it provides […]

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