Competition: Commission re-adopts cartel decision and fines eleven air cargo carriers for involvement in price-fixing cartel

On 17 March 2017, the Commission announced that it has re-adopted a cartel decision against eleven air cargo carriers. According to the newly adopted decision, fines totaling EUR 776 million are imposed on Air Canada, Air France, KLM, Martinair, British Airways, Cargolux, Cathay Pacific Airways, Japan Airlines, LAN Chile, SAS, and Singapore Airlines for their involvement in a price-fixing cartel.

The cartel decision was originally adopted in 2010, after an approximately five-year investigation by the Commission, initiated by a leniency application from Lufthansa. In 2015, the General Court ("GC") annulled the decision on procedural grounds (discrepancy between the reasoning and the operative part of the decision). According to the Commission, the procedural errors identified by the GC are addressed in the new decision.

Source: Commission Press Release 17/03/2017

Competition: Commission adopts new anonymous whistle-blower function

On 16 March 2017, the Commission announced that it has launched a new whistle-blower tool for individuals to report suspected cartels and other violations of competition law. The new tool ensures the whistle-blower's anonymity and is intended to complement and reinforce the effectiveness of the Commission's leniency program.

Source: Commission Press Release 17/03/2017 

Competition (Sweden): Swedish Supreme Administrative Court upholds horse betting monopoly

On 15 March 2017, the Supreme Administrative Court of Sweden (the "Court") rejected a claim from Tranell International Ltd (formerly Unibet), a company based in Malta, to quash a decision by the Swedish government not to grant Tranell a license to operate in the Swedish gambling market by way of horse betting. The government has previously granted a monopoly in that activity to ATG (Aktiebolaget Trav och Galopp), a company owned by the non-profit organizations Svensk Travsport and Svensk Galopp.

The Court found that the monopoly position of ATG is in line with the principles set out in the caselaw of the Court of Justice of the European Union ("CJEU"), as ATG is controlled and supervised by the Swedish government based on the provisions in the license granted to ATG, related agreements and a right of the government to appoint the majority of the board of directors of ATG. For these reasons, the Court found that it is irrelevant whether the monopoly meets the criteria for equal treatment, transparency and competition.

As the overall goals of Sweden's gambling and betting policy (i.e., to prevent criminality, counter the social and economic harm of gambling, to safeguard consumers' interest, and to ensure that private profits are not allowed in this sector and that gambling profits should be directed to public interest purposes) have not changed since the monopoly was last reviewed by the Court, the Court found ATG's monopoly to be in accordance with the principle of proportionality.

Source: Case 4716-16 Tranell International Ltd, Decision by the Supreme Administrative Court of Sweden 15/03/2017 (in Swedish)