On 5 December, the European Commission published a package of measures to reduce the administrative burden of EU merger control, which will apply as of 1 January 2014.
The package extends the scope of the simplified procedure for non-problematic cases. This means that more transactions may be notified using the Short Form CO, which will reduce the burden notwithstanding the fact the “Short” Form CO is still a fairly lengthy document. The European Commission considers that its proposed changes could allow up to 60-70% of all notified mergers to qualify for review under the simplified procedure, which is about 10% more than today.
The European Commission has also introduced various amendments [...]
On 26 September 2013, the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”) issued two important judgments (Case C-172/12 P, El du Pont de Nemours and Others v Commission and Case C-179/12 P, Dow Chemical v Commission) in which it confirms that a parent company can be held liable and fined by the European Commission for the antitrust infringements of its 50:50 joint venture in the EU.
The judgments endorse the European Commission’s current hardened approach of attributing antitrust liability, wherever possible, to parent companies. This approach maximises the level of fines by enabling the European Commission to avail itself of a higher maximum fine limit based not just on the turnover of the [...]
Last week, the European Commission published on its website a revised explanatory note on how it conducts on-the-spot inspections of business premises where it suspects a company has breached competition law (so-called “dawn raids”).
During a dawn raid the European Commission has the power to examine and copy not just hard copies of business records, but also electronic information. The most important revisions to the note concern the powers of the inspectors to conduct IT searches.
Extent of IT search
The revised note provides the following non-exhaustive examples of the IT storage media that the inspectors may search during an inspection: laptops, desktops, tablets, mobile phones, CD-ROMs, [...]
The EU’s General Court issued on 14 November two important judgments regarding the extent of the European Commission’s powers to dawn raid companies for suspected competition law infringements (Case T-135/09 Nexans v Commission and Case T-140/09 Prysmian v Commission).
The Court held that the European Commission must precisely delimit the products concerned by a dawn raid in the decision ordering the inspection, and went on to annul the Commission‘s inspection decisions in both cases on the grounds that it considered that the Commission did not have reasonable grounds to launch inspections in relation to the broad category of products set out in the decisions, but only in relation to a sub [...]
At the end of last week, the European Competition Network (“ECN”) published a report on the competition law enforcement and market monitoring activities by the European competition authorities in the food sector.
The report is an important reminder of the fact that at both the European and national level the EU food sector has been and will continue to be under close scrutiny from the antitrust perspective and more broadly.
What is the report?
The European Commission has been under considerable pressure to respond to concerns regarding the rising cost of food in the EU. In 2011, the European Parliament requested closer cooperation between the Commission and the national competition authori [...]
At the end of March, the European Commission fined Czech energy companies Energetický a průmyslový and EP Investment Advisors EUR2.5 million for obstructing a dawn raid which European Commission officials carried out as part of an antitrust investigation.
This is the first time that the European Commission has fined a company for the specific violation of obstructing IT searches during a dawn raid.
The European Commission raided the companies’ premises in Prague in November 2009. On arrival, the inspectors asked that the email account of certain key individuals be blocked until further notice. This is the European Commission’s standard dawn raid procedure, and is aimed to [...]