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Focus Antitrust - 18 September 2014

17 September 2014

In The News

New European Competition Commissioner announced

President-elect of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, has announced that Margrethe Vestager, formerly Danish Minister of Economic Affairs, will be the new Competition Commissioner. 

European Court of Justice rejects MasterCard appeal

The ECJ has dismissed the appeal by MasterCard and cross-appeals by Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group against the judgement of the General Court which upheld the European Commission's 2007 decision finding that MasterCard's EEA fall-back multilateral interchange fees (MIFs) infringed Article 101(1) of the TFEU.

The ECJ confirmed the Commission's view that MIFs are a restriction of competition since they limit the pressure which merchants can exert on acquiring banks when negotiating the costs charged by those banks and that MIFs are not objectively necessary to operate the MasterCard system.

The ECJ also agreed that MasterCard had produced insufficient evidence that MIFs create efficiencies that are passed on to consumers.

European Court of Justice sets aside General Court judgment in Groupement des Cartes Bancaires appeal

The ECJ has upheld the appeal by Groupement des Cartes Bancaires (GCB) against the General Court judgment which upheld the European Commission’s 2007 decision that the pricing measures adopted by GCB were contrary to Article 101.

The General Court had upheld the Commission’s conclusion that the pricing measures at issue restricted competition because of their anti-competitive object.

However, the ECJ held that the General Court had erred in upholding this conclusion. The ECJ has therefore annulled the judgment of the General Court and referred the case back to it so that it may examine whether the measures at issue could be prohibited on account of their anti-competitive effects.



Articles 101 and 102
  • Advocate General Wahl has given his opinion on a reference from a Dutch court on whether Article 101 applies to provisions of collective agreements which regulate the relationship between self-employed persons and their customers and clients. The Advocate General considers that such provisions fall within the scope of Article 101 if they are entered into in the interests of and on behalf of self-employed persons, but not if they are entered into in the interests of and on behalf of employees. 
  • The European Commission has cleared the proposed merger between Hapag Lloyd, a German shipping company, and rival Compañia Sud Americana de Vapores S.A. (CSAV) of Chile. The clearance is conditional upon the withdrawal of CSAV from two consortia on the trade between Northern Europe and the Caribbean and South America's West Coast, where the Commission considered that the merged entity would have faced insufficient competitive constraints to avoid the risk of price increases.
  • Following a Phase II investigation, the European Commission has cleared the proposed acquisition by Huntsman Corporation of a number of chemical businesses held by Rockwood Specialties Group, Inc. The clearance is conditional upon the divestment of Huntsman's TR52 business. TR52 is Huntsman's main titanium dioxide grade used for printing ink applications (such as printing inks used in flexible packaging) and the Commission had concerns that the transaction, as originally notified, would have enabled the merged entity to raise prices of titanium dioxide for printing ink applications in the EEA.



  • The CMA has published an update in relation to its ongoing investigation into the interchange fee arrangements for UK domestic point-of-sale transactions made using MasterCard/Maestro and Visa consumer payment cards. The update indicates that the CMA is considering the implications of the European Court of Justice judgment in relation to MasterCard’s appeal against the European Commission’s 2007 infringement decision (referred to above) and other relevant developments.

This article was written by Paul Stone.  

For more information please contact Paul on +44 (0)20 7203 5110 or paul.stone@crsblaw.com.