EU Competition

European Court of Justice (ECJ) reference on whether UEFA rules breach competition law. On 17 August 2015, details were published in the Official Journal of a request from a Belgian court for the ECJ to give a preliminary ruling on the compatibility of certain rules of the Union Européenne des Sociétés de Football Association (UEFA) with EU law, including the competition rules and the free movement rules (Articles 45, 56, 63, 65 and 66 of the TFEU). The ECJ was asked inter alia to rule on whether UEFA’s “break-even rule”, which limits the right to invest, infringes Article 101 or 102 of the TFEU by amounting to a restriction of competition “by object”.

EU Mergers

Phase I Mergers

  • M.7704 WILMAR INTERNATIONAL / FOX PETROLI / JV (19 August 2015)

State Aid

European Commission (Commission) approves UK support for the research and development of an innovative space launcher engine. On 14 August 2015, the Commission announced that it has found that the £50 million grant that the UK authorities intend to provide for designing a new type of space launcher engine is in line with EU state aid rules. The Commission has approved the aid in accordance with its 2014 Framework on state aid for Research, Development and Innovation. The Commission found that the measure will support the development of aerospace research and development in the EU while limiting distortion of competition brought about by the public financing.

Commission finds Italian tax reductions for companies in areas affected by natural disasters also benefits companies that suffered no damage. On 14 August 2015, the Commission announced that it has decided that Italian aid measures intended to support areas affected by natural disasters were incompatible with the state aid rules. The Commission found that the Italian measures were not sufficiently well-targeted because they did not require companies in the affected areas to show that they had suffered any damage or the extent of the damage that they had suffered. The Commission found that the measures also provided benefits to companies that had not suffered damage as a result of natural disasters. The Commission found that such measures may give an unfair competitive advantage to companies, distorting competition in the Single Market, and cannot be justified under EU state aid rules.

Public Procurement

Northern Ireland High Court ruling on application for early discovery in procurement dispute about alleged abnormally low bids. On 17 June 2015, The Northern Ireland High Court allowed an engineering and construction company’s application for early discovery in a procurement action. The engineering and construction company claimed that the defendant government department had accepted abnormally low tenders. The High Court considered that the claim raised issues relating to transparency and that early disclosure of certain information, which was within the control of the defendant, was necessary to establish whether there was a valid basis for the claim.

UK Competition

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) updates scope of its investigation into fashion modelling. On 19 August 2015, the CMA announced that the investigation into suspected anti-competitive arrangements in the UK clothing, footwear and fashion sector that it opened in March 2015 relates to conduct in the modelling sector. It is concerned that these arrangements may infringe the Competition Act 1998 and/or Article 101 TFEU.

Speeches & Publications

CMA publishes amended working paper on actual and perceived behaviour of personal current account customers in retail banking market investigation. On 18 August 2015, the CMA published a revised version of its working paper on actual and perceived behaviour of personal current account customers, produced as part of its market investigation into the supply of retail banking services.