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Mergers: Commission Clears A-TEC/Lentjes Deal in Second Phase
Following a second phase in-depth investigation, the European Commission has cleared the proposed acquisition by AEE, a member of the Austrian A-TEC group, of the German company, Lentjes. The two parties are active in the fields of energy and environmental solutions. The Commission’s original concerns were mainly due to the parties’ overlap in the area of grate-fired waste-to-energy plants for the incineration of municipal waste. Vertical concerns were also raised in the supply of a special technology for which Lentjes was one of the few suppliers. The Commission’s investigation showed, however, that the transaction would not have any anti-competitive effects as a number of effective competitors would remain in the markets post-merger.
Mergers: Commission Approves Syniverse/BSG Deal in Second Phase
Following an in-depth investigation, the European Commission has cleared the acquisition by Syniverse Technologies of Billing Services Group’s (BSG) wireless business. Syniverse is a global provider of technology services to wireless telecommunication companies. BSG is a global provider of payment processing and clearing services for fixed-line and wireless communication service providers. The Commission opened the investigation in July 2007 amidst concerns that the deal would affect competition in the market for GSM roaming data clearing services as the transaction would reduce the number of providers in Europe from three to two. The Commission ultimately approved the transaction after concluding that the combined entity would still face strong competition from market leader Mach, new entrants to the market were likely to emerge, and customers were unlikely to be harmed.
Mergers: Commission Requires
The European Commission has decided that Spain has violated Article 21 of the EU Merger Regulation by imposing certain conditions on Enel and Acciona in their acquisition of Endesa. These conditions concern: (i) their obligation to maintain Endesa as an independent company, including keeping its brand and its decision-making centre in Spain; (ii) a limitation on Endesa's debt service ratio; (iii) a limitation with respect to Endesa's dividend distribution policy; (iv) the obligation for certain Endesa generation units to purchase specified amounts of national coal; and (v) the obligation to keep the assets of the insular and non-mainland electricity systems within the Endesa Group. The Commission requires Spain to withdraw these conditions by 10 January 2008.
Competition: Fine of EUR 243 Million for Chloroprene Rubber Cartel
The European Commission has imposed fines on four multinationals for price fixing and market sharing in relation to chloroprene rubber. This product is a synthetic rubber used in a wide range of industrial products, such as the production of diving equipment, condoms, inner shoe soles and adhesive. One participant in the cartel would have received a fine of EUR 201 million but successfully obtained full immunity as the whistleblower. Two companies were granted reductions of 50 per cent and 25 per cent respectively under the Commission’s leniency programme. Under the Commission’s 2006 Fining Guidelines, applied here, increases of up to 100 per cent can be made for each past infringement (both national and EU-wide). An increase of 60 per cent was factored into the fine on one company due to past cartel infringement.
Air Transport: EU Strengthens Aviation Relations with
The European Commission and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have signed an aviation agreement allowing European airlines to fly between the UAE and any EU Member State. This horizontal aviation agreement does not replace the bilateral agreements currently in place between EU Member States and the UAE, but brings them in line with EU law by removing the nationality restrictions contained in bilateral air services agreements. About 600 air services agreements have already been modified by the combined efforts of the European Commission and EU Member States to replace nationality rules with the principle of EU airline designation. The UAE is the first country in the Gulf region to sign such an agreement.
Air Transport: Agreement to Modernise Single Market Legislation for Air Transport
The EU Council and the European Parliament have reached an agreement on the European Commission’s proposal of July 2006 to modernise the Single Market Legislation for Air Transport. The new legislation will improve price transparency and the regulation of airlines in terms of passenger safety and quality of travel. One result is that, from now on, passengers will receive complete information on the exact ticket prices, without any hidden costs.
Trade: Operation Wasabi Identifies Import and Customs Breaches
In September 2007, the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) and all 27 EU Member States’ customs services participated in operation Wasabi. The operation targeted fruit and vegetable imports into the Community, specifically those from south east Asia. Operation Wasabi aimed to combat fraud and protect the financial interests of the European Union whilst also protecting the health and safety of consumers and interests of legitimate business. The operation uncovered serious fraudulent activity against the Community budget, as well as breaches of EU sanitary and health legislation. OLAF concluded that, in order to safeguard Member States’ financial interests and the health of its consumers, there is a need for increased communication between customs and sanitary authorities and involvement of laboratory analysis to provide correct import classifications.
Competition: Commission Raids Fresh Exotic Fruit Producers and Importers
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Internal Market: EU Parliament Agrees on Commission’s Proposal to Strengthen Gun Control
The European Parliament has approved the European Commission’s proposal to reinforce the fight against firearms trafficking. The proposed measures will make the proper and complete marking of firearms compulsory by setting up a computerised data filing system. The proposal also aims to extend the time period for which firearms data must be kept and ban the purchase of firearms for persons younger than eighteen. Further, the new measures will align the existing directive on firearms with the “United Nations Firearms Protocol” to which the European Union acceded in 2001 and guarantee the use and recognition of a
Telecommunications: Member States Support Commission’s Strategy for
The majority of EU Member States represented at the European Council have supported the European Commission’s strategy for Mobile TV in the European Union. The strategy comprises three main elements, including: (i) a joint approach to the licensing of mobile TV; (ii) making spectrum available for these services, possibly in the UHF frequency band; and (iii) the controversial promotion of the use of DVB-H as the mobile TV standard for the European Union. DVB-H is an open standard developed by the Digital Video Broadcasting Consortium. The Commission has adopted a light touch approach and would not propose EU legislation in the field. It would organise an exchange of best practices and provide guidance to EU Member States for the adoption of a coherent and harmonised framework to implement the adopted strategy.
NEXT WEEK’S EVENTS
Monday 10 December –
General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) (10 – 11 December 2007)
European Council (
COURT OF JUSTICE
Approximation of laws
C-244/07 Commission v
Area of Freedom, Security and Justice
C-463/06 FBTO Schadeverzekeringen
C-294/07 Commission v
C-337/06 Bayerischer Rundfunk and Others
C-280/06 Autorità Garante d
C-372/06 Asda Stores
Environment and consumers
C-418/04 Commission v
C-184/06 Spain v Council
Freedom of establishment
C-438/05 The International Transport Workers' Federation and The Finnish Seamen's
C-465/05 Commission v
Freedom of movement for persons
Freedom to provide services
C-250/06 United Pan-Europe Communications
C-413/06 P Bertelsmann and Sony Corporation of
Joined Cases C-373/06 P, C-379/06 P, C-382/06 P Flaherty v Commission
Free movement of goods
C-265/06 Commission v
C-309/06 Marks & Spencer
COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE
Joined Cases T-101/05, T-111/05, T-112/05 BASF v Commission
T-10/06 Portela & Companhia v OHMI - Torrens Cuadrado and Sanz (Bial)
T-117/06 DeTeMedien v OHMI (suchen.de)
T-86/05 K & L Ruppert Stiftung v OHMI - Lopes de Almeida Cunha, Couto Simões, Lima Jatobá (CORPO livre)
T-242/06 Cabrera Sanchez v OHMI - Industrias Cárnicas Valle (el charcutero artesano)
T-308/05 Italy v Commission
T-50/06 Ireland v Commission
T-56/06 France v Commission
T-60/06 Italy v Commission
T-62/06 Eurallumina v Commission
T-69/06 Aughinish Alumina v Commission