European and Swedish Antitrust News (March 01, 2021)

Varian TrueBeam. Photo: M. Goodyear

The EU Commission has cleared the vertical merger of Siemens Healthineers and Varian, on the condition that their solutions for radiotherapy and medical imaging used to plan and deliver radiotherapy continue to use the de facto industry-wide interoperability standard (DICOM) to ensure continued interoperability with rival solutions within the two fields. In other news, the SCA has concluded that new rules are required to deal with competition issues with digital platforms in Sweden, an administrative court has fined Malmö municipality for an illegal direct procurement, and Ryanair lost its challenge against State-Aid for Swedish airlines.

EU Commission approves Siemens – Varian merger subject to conditions. Siemens subsidiary Healthineers is acquiring US based Varian Medical Systems, which is the leading supplier of radiotherapy solutions. Siemens meanwhile is the leading supplier of medical imaging solutions used to support the planning and delivery of radiotherapy. The merger raised vertical concerns as the joint entity would be able to foreclose rivals’ radiotherapy solutions and rival’s imaging solutions, but Siemens has committed to continue adhering to the de facto industry-wide interoperability standard (DICOM) between medical imaging solutions and radiotherapy solutions to ensure continued interoperability between the two systems, which are crucial to diagnose and treat cancer.

Increasing market power of digital platforms is a competition challenge in Sweden. The Swedish Competition Authority has published a new report on competition on Swedish digital markets. The study of 16 different platforms reveals that, while there are major differences between different markets, there are serious competition concerns as supplying companies become increasingly dependent on one platform to reach customers and established digital platforms can work to prevent alternative solutions from emerging. The SCA concludes that current legislation cannot address issues with digital platforms and will work to establish what further rules are required to deal with competition problems at a Swedish level.

Malmö municipality fined 10 MSEK for illegal direct procurement. A Swedish Administrative Court has fined Malmö municipality for an illegal direct procurement of assisted living facilities, in line with the lawsuit filed by the Competition Authority in December. Malmö didn’t contest that the procurement had been illegal, and the fine is the maximum administrative fine possible by law.

Ryanair loses challenge against Swedish COVID-19-related State-Aid. The General Court of the European Union has ruled that the Swedish COVID-19-related State-Aid to airlines holding a Swedish operating license, which the EU Commission approved, is compatible with EU law. Ryanair challenged the State-Aid in May, but the court finds that as the objective was to remedy the serious disturbance in Sweden’s economy, it was appropriate to limit the aid to airlines with a Swedish operating license. The court has, similarly, also rejected Ryanair’s challenge of a French State-Aid.

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