A second-instance court has rejected PKP Cargo's appeal against a Zl14.22 million (€3.2 million) abuse of dominance fine. The Office for Competition and Consumer Protection originally imposed the fine in 2015, as it found that PKP Cargo had abused its dominant position in the domestic rail freight market by unlawfully changing the rules for the sale of freight services, allowing the company to refuse to sign special contracts with competitors.
The Supreme Administrative Court, acting as the second and final instance, recently repealed the Commission for the Protection of Competition's (CPC's) clearance for the acquisition of Pharmastore OOD by Sopharma Trading AD. In its decision, the Supreme Administrative Court ruled that the CPC had failed to analyse the de facto vertical links between Sopharma and CHS.
In a first-instance decision, the Office for the Protection of Competition has fined RITCHY EU sro Kc6.7 million (€270,000) for resale price maintenance practices. According to the decision, RITCHY EU, a distributor of e-cigarettes and refills, violated the Act on the Protection of Competition between 6 September 2017 and 31 March 2019 by imposing on its customers minimum resale prices for the goods concerned.
The National Council of Agricultural Chambers recently asked the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) to look into potential competition rule breaches in the soft fruit market, especially regarding the sale of gooseberries. According to gooseberry growers, the buying price of gooseberries is too low compared with the potential price of further sale. The UOKiK is set to investigate Poland's soft fruit market over suspected price fixing.
In October 2019 the Commission for the Protection of Competition (CPC) prohibited the Eurohold-CEZ merger due to its 'conglomerate' effect and the significant combined resources of the acquirer's and the target's groups, respectively. An administrative court recently repealed the prohibition on the grounds that the CPC formally opened in-depth proceedings but entirely omitted the in-depth investigation phase, thereby breaching Bulgarian law and the EU Merger Regulation.
The Office for the Protection of Competition recently fined the City of Prague Kc980,000 (approximately €36,981) for creating anti-competitive parking conditions for hybrid vehicles. According to the office's press release, between 17 April 2018 and 30 April 2019 the City of Prague violated the Act on the Protection of Competition by favouring the parking of certain hybrid vehicles in paid parking zones in its territory without objectively justifiable reasons.
The Administrative Court recently overturned a Competition Protection Agency (CPA) divestment order, pursuant to which Dutch telecoms provider United Group was required to sell its Sport Klub TV channels for having breached the competition rules relating to market concentration. Although the court's ruling returns the case to the CPA for reconsideration, it does not affect the CPA's earlier decision to fine United Group €3.7 million for the late notification of its acquisition of the Sport Klub TV channels.
The Commission for Protection of Competition (CPC) recently opened a sector analysis of the markets for the production, transmission and supply of heating for household and non-household needs and vertically connected markets. The CPC pointed out that it has examined various aspects of the energy sector in recent years (eg, proceedings for antitrust breaches by participants on the relevant market).
Under the Competition Act, when an undertaking is fined for being a party to a restrictive agreement, the Office for Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) can impose financial penalties on the undertaking's managers. The UOKiK recently published a soft law document which provides detailed rules for determining such penalties. According to the new guidelines, fine calculations are a multi-stage process in which an array of objective and subjective criteria are taken into account.
A Ljubljana court recently slashed the fine imposed by the Competition Protection Agency (CPA) on Croatian food company Agrokor from €53.9 million to €1 million. Agrokor has confirmed the court's ruling, but intends to file an appeal and challenge the CPA's decision to confiscate its 70% stake in Slovenian food retailer Mercator.
The European Commission recently announced temporary derogations from EU competition rules for the milk, potato and live plant and flower sectors. Shortly thereafter, the Bulgarian Commission for the Protection of Competition published on its website information about temporary derogations from the prohibition on competitors in these sectors entering into agreements or undertaking coordinated practices.
The Hungarian Competition Authority (HCA) recently imposed a record fine on Booking.com BV for undertaking unfair commercial practices by misleadingly advertising certain hotel rooms with "free cancellation" and engaging in pressure selling. Although a surprise for many industry players, this decision aligns with the HCA's tendency to impose significantly higher fines in unfair commercial practice cases compared with previous years.
The Competition Protection Agency (CPA) recently praised Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company Slovenija, podjetje za prodajo in distribucijo brezalkoholnih pijač, doo (CCHBC) for improving its business practices in the local hotel, restaurant and cafe sector. The improvements were implemented voluntarily and were the result of discussions between the CPA and CCHBC.
Owing to the state of emergency declared due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the government adopted the Regulation on the Implementation of the Administrative Proceedings Act During the State of Emergency, which affected the timeline of proceedings before the North Macedonian Competition Authority (NMCA). This article outlines the regulation's practical implications for the NMCA's operations.
The government recently announced a phased plan to lift restrictions that were imposed in Croatia as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. While many sectors prepare to resume operations, the Croatian Competition Authority has been fully operational since 11 May 2020.
On 17 March 2020 the government declared a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the state of emergency, Competition Authority operations have continued. However, as office access is not permitted, only postal filings and submissions are accepted (ie, in-person filings are not allowed) and face-to-face meetings cannot be held. For now, the Competition Authority's filing and review deadlines remain unaffected.
Parliament recently adopted a new act to ensure that the Competition Act fully complies with EU Directive 2019/1/EU (ECN+ Directive). The Hungarian legislature has chosen to apply most of the ECN+ Directive rules to all antitrust proceedings (ie, regardless of whether they are conducted under Hungarian or EU law). However, in certain cases, the scope of the new provisions will be limited to proceedings on an EU legal basis.
The Constitutional Court recently upheld the Act on Significant Market Power, despite demands for its repeal by a group of senators almost four years ago. However, the court stated that the provision limiting the amount of suppliers' payments to customers with significant market power to 3% of the suppliers' annual sales is unconstitutional. This decision is of fundamental importance to future cooperation between suppliers and customers.
The government recently declared a state of emergency in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic and issued a special legal order. To date, no provision has been adopted under the special legal order allowing for a special exemption from the rules of competition law. Affected undertakings must therefore continue to pay attention to competition compliance. This article aims to help companies meet these requirements in view of the European Competition Network's recommendations.
The European Commission recently approved a state aid scheme worth Zl3.5 billion (approximately €700 million) for loans and guarantees to support the Polish economy in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak. The scheme will allow the Polish authorities to grant aid to support Polish companies affected by the COVID-19 outbreak by providing liquidity support in the form of guarantees on loans and subsidised interest rates for loans. This article addresses the new competition rules under the scheme.