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Antitrust / Pharmaceuticals: The Commission Finds Shortcomings in Pharmaceutical Sector Require Further Action
The European Commission has just published its final report on its inquiry into the pharmaceutical sector. This report concludes that further scrutiny is needed to increase innovation and competition. The Commission states that it will pursue any behaviour that infringes competition rules, wherever Community interest so requires.
The Commission launched the inquiry on 15 January 2008 to gain a better understanding of the competitive relationship amongst originator companies and between originator and generic companies. The Commission was particularly concerned with the practices used by originator companies to block or delay competition from manufacturers of generic pharmaceuticals.
The final conclusions of the report fall short of declaring these practices as per se violations of European competition rules. However, the Commission does state that it will intensify its scrutiny in certain areas.
With regard to competition between originator companies, the Commission states that it will focus on (i) defensive patenting strategies that are designed to exclude competitors and (ii) refusals to grant licenses on unused patents where such behaviour blocks innovation.
With regard to competition between originator companies and generic companies, the Commission states that it will focus on originator companies’ use of specific instruments to delay generic entry. The Commission invites stakeholders to bring evidence of such practices to the attention of the relevant competition authorities. With regard to patent litigation settlement agreements, the Commission will focus on those agreements that limit generic entry.
As a follow up to this inquiry, the Commission is conducting investigations of individual pharmaceutical companies.
Consumer Protection: EU-Wide Harmonised Methodology for Classifying and Reporting Consumer Complaints and Enquiries
The European Commission has adopted a Communication setting out a proposal for a harmonised methodology for classifying and reporting consumer complaints and enquiries. The proposed methodology aims to provide complaint handling organisations (such as national consumer authorities, consumer organisations, ombudsmen, complaints boards or regulators) with a common grid of classification criteria (such as selling method, type of business, product category).
According to the Communication, organisations can volunteer to use the classification system and to send their data to the Commission. The Commission would then make the data public through the Consumer Market Scoreboard. This would allow comparison between sectors and countries and provide an EU-wide indication of markets that are failing consumers. It would also enable national and EU authorities to target those markets more efficiently.
A public consultation on the draft harmonised methodology is open until 5 October 2009. The Commission will then make recommendations on the final version of the methodology.
Consumer Protection: Commission Adopts “Consumer Enforcement Package”
The European Commission has adopted a "consumer enforcement package", consisting of a Communication setting out the key areas of action to strengthen consumer protection at EU level and a report on the first two years of the application of Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 of 27 October 2004. This Regulation establishes an EU-wide consumer protection cooperation network of public authorities enforcing consumer rules at national level (the CPC Network).
The Communication indicates five priority areas for action in the consumer protection field: (i) strengthening cooperative frameworks such as the CPC Network and market surveillance systems for dangerous consumer products; (ii) strengthening the transparency of market surveillance and enforcement investigations; (iii) developing common understandings on the interpretation of EU consumer law; (iv) strengthening market monitoring, in particular the evidence base to identify markets where enforcement actions may be necessary; and (v) stepping up international cooperation through agreements with enforcement authorities in third countries (e.g., the United States and China).
State Aid / Aviation: Greece Fined for Non-Recovery of State Aid to Olympic Airways
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has fined Greece EUR two million for failing to comply with an earlier judgement requiring it to recover the EUR 850 million in illegal State aid granted to Olympic Airways. In addition, the ECJ has imposed daily default fines of EUR 16,000 until Greece complies.
In 2005, Greece was ordered by the ECJ to recover the aid "without delay". The Commission noted some time later that approximately EUR 100 million was still outstanding. The Commission brought a new action against the Greek Government before the ECJ for not fulfilling its obligations under the EC Treaty. Greece claimed that national law obstacles prevented it from efficiently recovering the aid.
NEXT WEEK’S EVENTS
Monday 13 July – Friday 17 July 2009
Agriculture and Fisheries Council (13 July 2009)
COURT OF JUSTICE
C-165/08 Commission v Poland
Area of Freedom, Security and Justice
Common Customs Tariff
C-440/07 P Commission v Schneider Electric
Environment and consumers
C-427/07 Commission v Ireland
C-254/08 Futura Immobiliare and Others
Free movement of capital
C-5/08 Infopaq International
Joined cases C-202/08 P, C-208/08 P American Clothing Associates v Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market
Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market v American Clothing Associates
C-12/08 Mono Car Styling
Social security for migrant workers
C-208/07 von Chamier-Glisczinski
C-554/07 Commission v Ireland
C-244/08 Commission v Italy
Freedom of movement for persons
C-325/08 Olympique Lyonnais
Freedom to provide services
C-153/08 Commission v Spain
C-200/08 Commission v France
C-323/08 Rodríguez Mayor and Others
C-540/07 Commission v Italy
COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE
No judgments scheduled for next week.