European and Swedish Antitrust News (June 22, 2020)

Illustration: European Commission 2020

The EU Commission has adopted a White Paper on levelling the playing field as regards foreign subsidies, in order to put forward tools for addressing possible distortions in the internal market caused by foreign subsidies. The Commission has also opened two formal antitrust investigations of Apple and an in-depth-investigation of the proposed PSA-FCA-merger. In Sweden, SVOA will publish separate accounts to fulfill transparency and PTS has removed some conditions on Telia Company.

EU Commission adopts White Paper on foreign subsidies. In a consultation open until September 23, the Commission suggests 3 ‘modules’ to address the problem of non-EU authorities granting subsidies to undertakings operating in the internal market. The first module is a general instrument to capture foreign subsidies by giving a supervisory authority possibility to impose measures such as redressive payments and structural or behavioural remedies. The second module gives the Commission authority to review and block the acquisition of EU companies facilitated by foreign subsidies. The third module proposes that contracting authorities would need to assess if there is a foreign subsidy distorting the procurement procedure, and if so exclude the bidder.

EU Commission opens investigations into Apple’s App Store and Apple Pay. In one of two separate formal antitrust investigations, the Commission will assess if Apple is limiting mobile payment solutions competing with Apple Pay, both through terms and conditions to merchants and by technologies on iPhones and iPads. In the second investigation, the Commission will assess the mandatory use of Apple’s own proprietary in-app purchase system on Apple devices and furthermore Apple’s restrictions preventing developers from informing users of alternative purchasing methods.

EU Commission starts phase-II-investigation of proposed PSA-FCA merger. Automotive companies Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (“FCA”, including brands Alfa Romeo, Dodge, Jeep, Lancia, Maserati, Ram Trucks, etc) and Peugeot S.A. (“PSA”, also including brands Citroën, Opel, Vauxhall, etc) which have publicly considered a merger for about a year notified the Commission in May, and the Commission has launched an in-depth investigation concerning the market for Commercial vans (light commercial vehicles below 3.5 tonnes) in 14 EU Member States and the UK.

Stockholm Vatten och Avlopp will publish separate accounts to fulfill transparency. The Swedish Competition Authority has for 8 months been investigating municipality owned company Stockholm Vatten och Avlopp AB, which is a holding company owning the two operating subsidiaries Stockholm Avfall AB (waste) and Stockholm Vatten AB (water). By not publishing separate accounts for its subsidiaries, the company was suspected of breaching Swedish law implementing the EU Directive on transparency of financial relations between public authorities and public undertakings. The company has now voluntarily decided to publish the accounts, upon which the SCA closed its investigation.

PTS removes some network access demands on Telia Company. Telia Company is subject to several conditions for competitor access to its crucial infrastructure. The Swedish Post and Telecom Authority (PTS) has now revoked some conditions, including virtual access to the local copper network and some conditions on colocation of infrastructure.

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