On 9 September 2008, the European Court of First Instance (CFI) rejected the claim for EUR 654 million in damages against the European Commission brought before them by MyTravel, a UK-based holiday company. In September 1999, the Commission had rejected MyTravel’s application to merge with a well-established UK competitor, First Choice, on the basis that it would lead to a collective dominant position within the UK market. In 2002, the CFI annulled the Commission’s decision, holding that the requisite degree of negative effects on competition had not been proven. In that decision, the CFI pointed out that the Commission had made errors of assessment.
The CFI decided, however, that the Commission’s decision to prohibit the acquisition of First Choice did not make the Community liable for damages, since it did not manifestly and gravely infringe Community law. The decision clearly reflects the high threshold required to bring a damages claim against the Commission, and it appears to remain a priority for the European Courts to insulate the Commission in its role as a regulatory authority. An appeal (concerning solely the relevant points of law) may be brought before the European Court of Justice.