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Competition / Financial Services: Commission Considering Substantial Changes to Insurance Block Exemption Regulation
The European Commission issued a report on 24 March 2009 on the functioning of the Insurance Block Exemption Regulation (EC) 358/2003 (the IBER), which is due to expire in 2010. On 2 June 2009, the Commission conducted a public event which allowed industry representatives a final opportunity to express their views before the Commission takes a decision as to whether to renew part or all of the IBER.
The IBER exempts from antitrust scrutiny certain agreements among insurers, including pooling agreements, information sharing agreements, the use of standard policy conditions and security devices. The Commission’s report of 24 March, however, argued that two categories of agreement covered by the IBER— standard policy conditions and security devices—are not unique to the insurance industry and therefore should not be renewed after the IBER expires. On the other hand, the Commission acknowledged that certain unique aspects of the insurance industry may justify the use of pooling agreements and information sharing, provided that the IBER limited strictly the use of such agreements and that consumers benefit. As a result, the IBER is likely to be renewed only partially and will be changed substantially.
At the meeting of 2 June 2009, Commissioner Neelie Kroes reiterated the conclusions of the Commission’s 24 March report, explaining that block exemption regulations should be very rare. The Commission is expected to issue a draft regulation for consultation in the autumn.
Internal Market / Energy: Madrid Forum Discusses Next Steps for Liberalising the EU Gas Market
The European Commission published a statement on 29 May 2009 on the outcome of the European Gas Regulatory Forum, held in Madrid. The Madrid Forum concluded that work should begin quickly to implement rapidly the third internal energy market legislative package, which is awaiting final adoption (see Brussels Brief 3 April 2009). The Commission urged the regulators to dedicate resources both to establishing institutional arrangements and to trialling new processes in the time between the adoption of the third package and its entry into force. The Commission also told the Forum that it intends to review guidelines on gas network transparency.
The Forum identified capacity allocation and congestion management as the top priority areas for possible adoption of legally binding framework guidelines and network codes. The European Regulators' Group for Electricity and Gas proposed concrete measures intended to resolve issues relating to congestion, identified as one of the main barriers to cross-border trade.
Mergers / Transport: Alitalia / Air One Merger in Constitutional Limbo
Italian Decree 134/2008, which suspended competition law for crisis buyouts, thereby allowing the merger of Alitalia and Air One, has been called into question following a claim of unconstitutionality brought by consumer association Federconsumatori, Italian airline Meridiana, its subsidiary Eurofly and the province of Milan. The question of whether the Decree potentially violates Article 3 on equal treatment and Article 41 on freedom of economic activity has now been referred to the Italian Constitutional Court.
A ruling declaring the Decree unconstitutional would require the merger to be re-notified to the Italian competition authority which would then review the transaction under normal Italian competition law.
Mergers / Energy: Commission Extends Vattenfall / Nuon Phase I Investigation.
The European Commission has extended by 10 working days its review under the EC Merger Regulation of the proposed acquisition of by Swedish state-owned electricity company, Vattenfall AB (Vattenfall) of Dutch utility, N.V Nuon Energy (Nuon), in order to scrutinise remedies offered by the parties aimed at tackling concerns the deal may be anti-competitive. The new deadline for the Commission to either clear the deal or proceed to an in-depth Phase II investigation has been set for 22 June.
On 28 April 2009, the Commission received a notification of the proposed concentration. Overlaps in the supply of retail electricity in the Hamburg and Berlin regions constitute the main focus of the Commission investigation as, together, the combined Vattenfall-Nuon group could hold market shares of an estimated 50 to 70 percent in these markets.
Vattenfall believes that the proposed divestment of Nuon’s German activities will be enough to alleviate regulatory concerns as no other significant overlaps exist.
NEXT WEEK’S EVENTS
Monday 8 June – Friday 12 June 2009
Eurogroup (8 June 2009)
Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO) (8 – 9 June 2009)
Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) (9 June 2009)
Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council (TTE) – Transport (11 June 2009)
Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council (TTE) - Telecommunications and Energy (12 June 2009)
COURT OF JUSTICE
C-33/08 Agrana Zucker
Approximation of laws
C-561/07 Commission v Italy
Common Customs Tariff
C-480/06 Commission v Germany
C-327/08 Commission v France
C-429/07 X BV
C-546/08 Commission v Sweden
Environment and consumers
C-300/07 Hans & Christophorus Oymanns
Freedom to provide services
C-564/07 Commission v Austria
C-529/07 Chocoladefabriken Lindt & Sprüngli
C-542/07 P Imagination Technologies v Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market
Law governing the institutions
C-335/08 P Transports Schiocchet - Excursions v Commission
C-521/07 Commission v Netherlands
C-572/07 RLRE Tellmer Property
COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE
T-257/04 Poland v Commission
T-33/07 Greece v Commission
Common foreign and security policy
T-318/01Othman v Council and Commission
Environment and consumers
Joined cases T-396/05, T-397/05ArchiMEDES v Commission
T-204/06 Vivartia v OHMI - Kraft Foods Schweiz (milko ΔΕΛΤΑ)
Joined cases T-114/07, T-115/07 Last Minute Network v OHMI - Last Minute Tour (LAST MINUTETOUR)
T-33/08 Bastos Viegas v OHMI - Fabre médicament (OPDREX)
T-67/08 Hedgefund Intelligence v OHMI - Hedge Invest (InvestHedge)
T-151/08 Guedes - Indústria e Comércio v OHMI - Espai Rural de Gallecs (Gallecs)
T-132/08 ERNI Electronics v OHMI (MaxiBridge)
T-450/07 Harwin International v OHMI - Cuadrado (Pickwick COLOUR GROUP)
T-78/08 Baldesberger v OHMI (Forme d'une pincette)
Staff Regulations of Officials
T-498/07 P Krcova v Court of Justice
T-152/06 NDSHT v Commission
T-292/02 Confservizi v Commission
T-297/02 ACEA v Commission
T-300/02 AMGA v Commission
T-301/02 AEM v Commission
T-309/02 Acegas v Commission
T-189/03 ASM Brescia v Commission
T-222/04 Italy v Commission