International Competition Update | March 2018
Published on 29th Mar 2018
As we move into the spring, the competition authorities seem to be working hard to update and clarify their respective remits and procedures, from the Italian Competition Authority grappling with the question of what legal tool should be used to tackle market distortions in the Roche-Novartis case, to the CMA's newly published guidelines for rail franchise investigation procedures.
One of the most significant of our Competition Law predictions for 2018 – the EU's new rules on Geo-blocking – has also finally been published in the form of the new Geo-Blocking Regulation, due to take effect from December 2018.
Meanwhile, with Brexit and other geopolitical events putting the involvement of foreign actors under scrutiny, the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has just published the UK government’s decision to amend the UK merger control jurisdictional thresholds in the interests of national security.
Following on from the recent high-profile fine for Qualcomm for abusive exclusivity provisions, we also report on another case in which the use of loyalty rebates and other incentives, by Poste Italiane, were deemed to be part of an "abusive strategy of an exclusionary nature", for which Poste Italiane was fined €23.1m.
Geo-blocking Regulation | What does it mean for your business?
After considerable negotiation and consultation, the final text of the geo-blocking Regulation has now been agreed and published in the Official Journal of the European Union. The Regulation will stop most companies from preventing access to national versions of their websites within the EU.
What does it mean in practice for your business?
Government to change UK merger thresholds as a short-term measure to protect national security
On 15 March 2018, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy published the UK government’s decision to amend the UK merger control jurisdictional thresholds, as proposed in the October 2017 consultation. This will extend the powers of the Secretary of State to intervene in mergers that might raise national security concerns in specific areas of the economy.
The Roche-Novartis case | Is competition law widening its frontiers?
The preliminary ruling of the CJEU, in the Italian Roche-Novartis case, confirms a slow but steady trend towards the widening of competition law frontiers by considering misleading information to be an infraction of competition law.
Poste Italiane fined €23.1m by Italian Competition Authority for exclusionary abuse of dominance
On 15 January 2018, the Italian Competition Authority announced the conclusion of proceedings against Poste Italiane S.p.A, the incumbent provider of postal services in Italy, finding it had abused its dominant position in violation of Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
CMA publishes new guidelines for assessing rail franchise awards
The UK Competition and Markets Authority has published new guidance for rail-franchise bidders entering into pre-notification discussions. The CMA has a statutory duty to assess whether any rail franchise award could give rise to competition concerns and this new guidance aims to clarify the process and methodology behind a CMA investigation.