The new government composed of the Austrian People's Party and the Green Party recently presented the government programme for 2020 to 2024, which contains comprehensive measures to promote the expansion of renewable energies. Accordingly, the Renewable Energies Expansion Act, which has been planned for a long time and was drawn up under the penultimate government, is to be enacted as quickly as possible.
Austria's new coalition government consisting of the People's Party and the Green Party recently published its programme for the legislative period 2020 to 2024. The programme is called Taking Responsibility for Austria and should make Austria a pioneer in climate protection. The Paris Agreement climate targets are to be met at all costs, while the Climate Protection Act should ensure that Austria does not exceed its CO2 budget.
Following a European Court of Justice decision concerning the air quality measurement criteria set out in the EU Air Quality Directive, individuals in affected areas and non-governmental organisations can now take direct action in Austria against wrongfully installed air quality measuring points. The Austrian Higher Administrative Court recently addressed this matter and explained how those concerned in Austria should proceed.
The Commission for the Protection of Competition (CPC) recently introduced new merger filing guidelines. The former guidelines did not differentiate between transactions, despite potential competition concerns. The new guidelines address this practical problem and provide for two types of filing: a simplified merger filing for mergers that are unlikely to raise competition concerns and a more extensive merger filing for concentrations which are expected to significantly affect the relevant markets.
A series of minor yet impactful amendments will shortly be introduced to the Companies Law, making it easier for investors and entrepreneurs to set up a new company. Parliament adopted the amendments in order to reduce the red tape surrounding company incorporation and encourage investment in the Romanian economy.
The Supreme Court recently considered whether distribution network operators must provide network users with a written cost estimate for a grid connection even if the general obligation to connect final customers to the grid is still in dispute and has yet to be decided by the competent authority. The case has clarified whether a network operator's obligation to provide a cost estimate presupposes that its connection obligation is undisputed or has already been legally established.
With the adoption of the EU General Data Protection Regulation, the EU legislature intended to strengthen the rights of individuals (ie, data subjects or applicants) by giving them greater control over how their personal data is used. Applicants must be informed of the processing of their personal data and be able to verify whether such processing is lawful. Accessing documents is not necessary to achieve that goal. This view is supported by two recent Austrian decisions.
In early 2019 the Competition Protection Agency (CPA) imposed a record fine of almost €54 million for a failure to notify a concentration (so-called 'gun jumping'). This is by far the highest fine imposed by the CPA for gun jumping (and in general). As precedent concerning the CPA's practice on gun jumping is scarce, this decision provides important insight into circumstances and criteria that the CPA considers when determining fines in this regard.
Since 1 July 2014, companies have been able to initiate settlement proceedings with the Hungarian Competition Authority (HCA). Recent case law suggests that the HCA has aimed to foster cooperation between itself and market participants and is striving for cooperation even when market participants allegedly commit grave infringements of competition rule commitments.
CEZ Bulgaria is not for sale. This seems to be the (implicit) conclusion of the Commission on the Protection of Competition's (CPC's) decision prohibiting Eurohold Bulgaria AD's acquisition of all of CEZ Group's Bulgarian assets. The CPC's decision came after a fast-track and in-depth proceeding (Phase II), which ended only 14 days after it was formally opened.
The legality of on-site inspections (also known as dawn raids) carried out by the Office for the Protection of Competition at the premises of betting companies in early 2019 is currently under judicial review. For its part, the office maintains that dawn raids are an efficient tool for investigating possible competition law infringements. Moreover, it recently published an information letter on dawn raids and intervention actions on its website.
The Higher Administrative Court recently found that the operation of an electric filling station does not constitute the operation of an electricity company and is thus subject to Trade Act. Prior to this decision, the question of whether the act applies to such stations was unclear, as there was no relevant case law and the legal literature was divergent.
The Commission on the Protection of Competition (CPC) recently fined a snack distributor 4% of its annual turnover for the unfair solicitation of customers. The commission relied on its earlier practice to determine whether a promotional campaign launched by the distributor had infringed the Competition Protection Act. This decision is a helpful reminder that in order to avoid competition law violations, companies must carefully consider which prizes to offer in promotional campaigns.
Under Romanian law, the scope and duration of a director's confidentiality obligations must be agreed in the mandate agreement to be concluded between the director and their company. In order to mitigate any risks in this regard, mandate agreements should set out the specific circumstances in which directors can disclose confidential information to their company's parent undertaking or subsidiaries.
Companies often use non-compete agreements to prevent highly skilled employees from using their know-how in favour of competitors following their termination. The Supreme Court recently addressed various questions relating to the compensation paid to employees for post-termination non-compete agreements. This article examines this topic in light of the Supreme Court's recent guidelines and a recent decision which led to debate among practitioners.
The Supreme Court recently explained that the Office for Competition and Consumer Protection does not have to identify all of the parties to an anti-competitive vertical agreement in decisions issued in such cases. This matter has been the subject of debate in Poland for some time, with some commentators viewing it as a possible violation of an organiser's right to a defence. It is evident from this judgment that such arguments will be unsuccessful in the courts.
The information assessed when preparing the latest Flexibility and Storage Market Report on the Austrian gas market suggests that the current competitive situation does not require regulated access to storage facilities. The sufficient availability of storage capacity, customer-oriented product development, market-oriented price formation and offered quantities form a market characterised by competitive pressure.
Misleading business-to-consumer information may lead to significant fines. Two recent Hungarian Competition Authority (HCA) decisions prove that the HCA has maintained its position as a watchdog of both consumer rights and fair competition. In both cases, the companies were investigated by the HCA because they had omitted to tell customers important information, thereby harming them.
The Ministry of Economic Development and Technology is contemplating significant amendments to Slovenia's antitrust and merger control proceedings and has prepared a draft amendment to the Prevention of Restriction of Competition Act. However, the ministry has yet to communicate when the proposed amendments will be placed in the legislative proceeding of the National Assembly and it remains unclear when the draft amendment will come into effect and how it will be worded.
The Office for the Protection of Competition recently found two companies guilty of bid rigging in a public tender. While similar bid-rigging cases occur quite frequently and generally fall within the office's purview, this case is unique because, for the first time, the office was informed about the anti-competitive behaviour by a whistleblower and appointed a guardian for one of the parties involved.