Short Reads

General Court rules that an implicit and unlimited guarantee does not necessarily constitute State aid

General Court rules that an implicit and unlimited guarantee does not necessarily constitute State aid

General Court rules that an implicit and unlimited guarantee does not necessarily constitute State aid

01.07.2016 NL law

On 26 May 2016, the General Court ("GC") annulled a decision of the European Commission concerning an implicit and unlimited guarantee granted by the French government to the French Petroleum Institute ("FPI"). The French government and the FPI alleged that the FPI did not benefit from the guarantee and therefore the guarantee did not qualify as State aid.

 

The FPI was governed by private law until it was re-established under public law status in 2006. The Commission held that the grant of that status had the effect of conferring an unlimited public guarantee on FPI's activities, as it was no longer subject to insolvency proceedings.

The Commission alleged that the FPI benefitted from this guarantee in its relationships with  suppliers and customers, qualifying the guarantee as an advantage. Furthermore, the Commission deemed this a selective advantage since the FPI's competitors, which are established under private law, are subject to insolvency proceedings. The Commission took a similar view with regard to an unlimited implied guarantee in the La Poste case.

The FPI and the French State appealed the decision, arguing that the guarantee did not qualify as State aid. The GC allowed the appeal. While it shared the Commission's view that the public undertaking status of the FPI implies an unlimited guarantee, the GC ruled that the Commission should have shown the actual effects produced by the guarantee. According to the GC,  the Commission did not prove that the FPI actually benefitted or was likely to benefit from the guarantee. In particular, the Commission did not demonstrate that the FPI’s suppliers treated or were likely to  treat it more favourably, for instance by offering lower prices or not requiring a guarantee themselves.

As a result the GC annulled the decision of the Commission. The parties may appeal to the Court of Justice against this judgment on points of law only.

This article was published in the Competition Law Newsletter of July 2016. Other articles in this newsletter:

1. Court of Justice dismisses appeals in the Calcium Carbide Cartel
2. General Court confirms that the financial position of shareholders and the possibility to increase credit facilities are relevant when assessing an inability to pay request
3. General Court confirms illegality of non-compete clause in telecoms transaction
4. District Court of Rotterdam rejects the applicability of arbitration clauses in antitrust damages litigation
5. Update on changes in antitrust damages claims legislation in the Netherlands
6. New maximum fines for competition law infringements in the Netherlands as of 1 July 2016

Related news

10.10.2018 NL law
Ongevraagd advies Raad van State: normering van geautomatiseerde overheidsbesluitvorming

Short Reads - Op 31 augustus 2018 heeft de Afdeling advisering van de Raad van State (hierna: "Afdeling advisering") een 'Ongevraagd advies over de effecten van de digitalisering voor de rechtsstatelijke verhoudingen' betreffende de positie en de bescherming van de burger tegen een "iOverheid" uitgebracht. Het gebeurt niet vaak dat de Afdeling advisering zo een ongevraagd advies uitbrengt. Dit onderstreept het belang van de voortdurend in ontwikkeling zijnde technologie en digitalisering in relatie tot de verhouding tussen de overheid en de maatschappij.

Read more

01.10.2018 EU law
UK Court upholds fine against Ping for online sales ban

Short Reads - On 7 September 2018, the UK Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) upheld the UK Competition and Market Authority's (CMA) decision fining Ping Europe Limited, a manufacturer of golf clubs, for violating EU and UK competition law by prohibiting two UK retailers from selling Ping golf clubs online. While the CAT reduced the fine from £1.45 million to £1.25 million, it confirmed that outright online sales bans in the context of selective distribution agreements are restrictive of competition by object.

Read more

01.10.2018 EU law
Court of Justice refers case against Infineon in relation to smart card chips cartel back to the General Court

Short Reads - On 26 September 2018, the European Court of Justice partially set aside the judgment of the General Court in the smart card chips cartel case. Infineon had argued that the General Court wrongfully assessed only five out of eleven allegedly unlawful contacts. The Court agreed with Infineon insofar as its argument related to the amount of the fine imposed. Philips had also appealed the General Court judgment but that appeal was dismissed in its entirety meaning that the Court of Justice upheld the European Commission's decision and fine.

Read more

01.10.2018 EU law
Dutch Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal annuls mail market analysis decision

Short Reads - On 3 September 2018, the Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal (CBb) annulled the market analysis decision regarding 24-hour business mail issued by the Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) on 27 July 2017. In appeal proceedings filed by PostNL, the CBb ruled that the ACM had failed to demonstrate that digital mail was not part of the relevant market for 24-hour business mail.

Read more

26.09.2018 EU law
Algemene bepalingen inzake oneerlijke handelspraktijken wijken voor specifiekere regelgeving

Articles - In geval van strijdigheid tussen de Richtlijn Oneerlijke Handelspraktijken[1] (en bij uitbreiding de omzettingsbepalingen in Boek VI WER) en andere Europeesrechtelijke voorschriften betreffende specifieke aspecten van oneerlijke handelspraktijken, hebben deze laatste voorrang (zie artikel 3, lid 4 van de Richtlijn Oneerlijke Handelspraktijken). Dat dit tot interessante discussies kan leiden, bleek uit een recent arrest van het Hof van Justitie[2].

Read more

Our website uses cookies: third party analytics cookies to best adapt our website to your needs & cookies to enable social media functionalities. For more information on the use of cookies, please check our Privacy and Cookie Policy. Please note that you can change your cookie opt-ins at any time via your browser settings.

Privacy – en cookieverklaring