Competition Law

04 Oct 2021

EU Proposes the Prolongation of the State Aid Temporary Framework

The European Commission has proposed the prolongation of the State aid Temporary Framework until 30 June 2022, in order to expedite the ongoing Covid-19 economic recovery in Europe. The Temporary Framework was initially adopted on 19 March 2020 and to this date, it was amended and prolonged five times (more information available here and here). Margaret Vestager, the Executive Vice-President, who is in charge of the competition policy said that we are finally seeing improvements in the EU economy after the big crisis that hit the EU due to Covid-19.  She also added: ’’[W]e need to be aware of disparities […]

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22 Jul 2021

Internet of Things: A New Brainiac in the Hood

A phenomenon known as the Internet of Things (“IoT”), which has been at the forefront of the global tech changes, recently caught the European Commission’s (“Commission”) attention.  The Commission’s Preliminary Report and Q&A on this tech & business sector is a big step towards acknowledging IoT as a market of the future, while simultaneously pointing out some potential dangers of this groundbreaking technology. Internet of Things – a Brief Explanation Let’s imagine this situation: you are not only an ardent coffee drinker but also a sleepyhead.  Your alarm wakes you up at 7.00 am.  You have little precious time to […]

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Serbia: One small step for a legislator means one big step for the EU acquis alignment

In the process of gradually aligning its legislation with the EU acquis the Government of the Republic of Serbia adopted two bylaws on 11 March 2021 in the field of state aid, complementary to the recently adopted new State Aid Control Act. All this adds value to the start of talks on the Chapter 8 – Competition Policy of Serbia’s negotiation process and may speed up Serbia’s EU accession. Regional Aid Regulation This regulation is designed to promote economic development of the least developed regions or the development of regions with a high level of unemployment. It also allows state […]

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14 Jun 2021

Gatekeepers and Digital Markets – EU Digital Saga continues

Some reports say that it would be impossible to live in the digital world outside of the ecosystem created by Big Tech giants.  The concentration of power in a small number of platforms has allowed some tech companies, popularly known as the Four Horsemen” to exercise unparalleled economic power and social impact almost without any oversight by regulators.  These companies have complete market dominance, each in their respective field of expertise: Apple in consumer electronics and mobile operating systems;  Facebook in the social media, Google in online searches, video-sharing and mapping-based navigation; and, finally, Amazon in the e-commerce market.  Hence, […]

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07 Jun 2021

Amazon Wins Major Tax Battle Against EU

The EU’s second-highest court sided with Amazon.com (“Amazon”) recently, saying it did not owe millions to Luxembourg in unpaid taxes.  On May 12, 2021, the General Court (“Court”) overturned the European Commission’s (“Commission”) order to Amazon to pay EUR 250 million to Luxembourg, as reimbursement of illegal State aid. The Court held that the European Commission’s primary finding of an alleged advantage was based on an incorrect analysis.  Precisely, the Court argued that none of the findings set out by the Commission in the contested decision were sufficient to demonstrate the existence of an advantage for the purposes of Article […]

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03 Jun 2021

A Snitch in the Cartel – the Leniency Program

Business cartels between competing market participants are designed to limit or eliminate competition between them, with the objective of increasing prices and profit of the cartel members.  In practice, this is generally achieved by fixing prices, market sharing, limiting output, allocating customers or territories, bid-rigging, or a combination of the above.  Cartels are harmful to consumers and society as a whole since the participating businesses charge higher prices (and earn higher profits) than would be the case in a competitive market. Because of their negative impact on the market, competition legislation fights against cartels, imposing substantial fines on participants, which […]

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20 May 2021

Biggest gun-jumping fine or just a slap on the wrist?

The Serbian Competition Authority (“SCA”) recently focused on unapproved mergers i.e. gun-jumping.  The most recent “victim” of the SCA’s investigations into gun-jumping was Fortenova Grupa d.d. (“Fortenova”), with the only previous undertaking fined for gun-jumping being Prointer IT Solutions.  Meanwhile, Ernst & Young are also being investigated under the same allegations.  Is this simply a witch hunt or is there something going on here? Gun-jumping (not only during the Olympics) Before we get into the heart of the matter let`s define what gun-jumping is.  In competition law, gun-jumping is a concept pertaining to an unlawful pre-merger and pre-clearance coordination of […]

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26 Apr 2021

Cartel Ties Prompting Disqualification

“Three Strikes, You’re Out!”, or, as in the practice of the UK’s watchdog, “third time is a charm”, but the fourth is not.  Let us check out the rules of fair play when it comes to protecting competition in the UK market. In the early 2020 Associated Lead Mills Ltd (ALM) and H.J. Enthoven Ltd (trading as BLM British Lead), two of the UK’s largest suppliers of rolled lead,  admitted to forming a cartel and thus breaking the law four times by colluding on prices, sharing the rolled lead market by arranging not to target certain customers, and purposely not […]

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24 Apr 2021

ESL: A Legal Perspective and Insights on the Football League that May Never Start

Introductory remarks There are many reasons why football is one of the world’s most successful and popular sports, and that Europe is its home.  As Rohan Roy said in his poem, football is “the most beautiful game”.  Although football has changed over the years, which was inevitable, it kept receiving support from its fans. Historically, adjustments to “the most important of the least important things” have been announced and introduced gradually, so that the core principles of football would survive. It is obvious that the fans and supporters were and always will be the reason for football’s worldwide success.  This […]

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09 Apr 2021

UK’s CMA Updates Guidelines on Merger Assessment

In these times of rapidly changing markets, the UK’s competition law determined the need for more clarity in existing rules, as well as an appetite to revise the ones which proved to be obsolete.   This resulted in updated guidelines on merger assessment, following a comprehensive public debate.  So, let’s check out the latest news from UK’s competition watchdog! The Competition and Markets Authority of the UK (“CMA”) highlighted its mandate to promote competition across the UK and beyond.  The CMA’s goal is to protect consumers through its merger work and help companies and their advisers assess whether competition concerns might be […]

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24 Mar 2021

Vertical Restraints in the Sights of the Commission for Protection of Competition

In the last few months, the Serbian National Competition Authority (“NCA”) has turned its attention to sanctioning agreements between undertakings where resale prices are maintained.  After taking cases against consumer electronics undertakings, the NCA recently opened an investigation against a general importer and its three car dealers of “Audi” vehicles, in the course of its sectoral analysis of the markets of sales and after-sales services of motor vehicles. Resale Price Maintenance – What is the Problem? Resale price maintenance (“RPM”) is a contractual provision where the supplier (usually the manufacturer or general importer) binds the buyer (usually the distributor or […]

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12 Mar 2021

2020 in review – light at the end of the tunnel

At Gecić Law, we proudly look back at 2020 and remember it as a year of significant achievement. Some of our accomplishments singled out in this review testify not only to the ability of our team to quickly adapt to radically different circumstances, but to see them as an opportunity to affirm our core values, to build on them and to grow. We rose to the challenge, learned and developed, and in the process, we helped our employees, clients, and business partners gain the strength to overcome the uncertainty and grow together with us. These are the highlights of our […]

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05 Mar 2021

Our Energy practice is growing every day

Our Energy practice team has repeatedly demonstrated its credibility by devising unique opportunities for greenfield and brownfield investments for our clients. We provide comprehensive solutions related to privatization, regulatory compliance and due diligence in cooperation with eminent regulatory, corporate and financial experts. Counsel to Norwegian NBT AS on Wind Farms Project in Serbia Our latest accomplishment in the energy sector is providing counsel to NBT AS, Norway, a utility-scale wind power developer (exceeding 100 KW of power), in partnering with WV International (formerly Windvision).  WV International has been developing wind farm projects in Serbia since 2010 and has been active […]

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02 Feb 2021

Removing Competition and/or train tracks?

As you already know, we make it our business to bring you news of cases that are out of the ordinary and interesting in so many ways.  But this one is a first.  It is not new as in recent, because it all began 10 years ago, but new in the context of originality.  What you are about to read is the story of probably the most flagrant “abuse of dominant position” ever. Factual originality Providing the backdrop to this story is a business relationship in the Baltics between Lithuanian Railways (“LR”), the state-owned rail company in Lithuania, with responsibility […]

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04 Jan 2021

Amazon – One of “The Biggest Deals” for EU’s Antitrust Practice

Unbelievable numbers: 840,000 employees, USD 280 billion in revenue for 2019, USD 11.5 billion profit (for the same year) and first centi-billionaire owner ever.  Today, one of the biggest undertakings in global trade.  But, on the other side, one of “The Biggest Deals” for the EU, ever.  We bring you a story of to-ings and fro-ings between Amazon and the EU Commission. Short Recap Rewind to July 17, 2019.  On that day, the Commission opened an investigation into possible anti-competitive conduct by Amazon.  More precisely, an investigation was opened to assess whether Amazon’s use of sensitive data from independent retailers […]

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12 Oct 2020

The New Public Procurement Act: How Does it Help in the Fight Against Bid-rigging

The New Public Procurement Act (“new Act”) was adopted in December 2019 and came into force on January 1, 2020.  The key objectives of the new act are increased transparency within the public procurement procedure, elimination of the administrative burden and increased competition between the participants in the procedure. If conducted legally, the public procurement process should result in the acquisition of the highest possible quality of goods or services for the lowest possible price.  However, collusion between bidders, i.e. “bid-rigging”, eliminates genuine competition and hinders the interests of both purchasers and taxpayers. Bids can be rigged through secret coordination […]

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20 Jul 2020

Commission Blocks – General Court Unblocks

For some reason May is THE month for competition.  Mays of yesteryear have witnessed many intriguing courtroom battles: May 2016, May 2019 and finally in May 2020. True to form, merger control is making the headlines again.  The General Court (GC) annulled the European Commission’s (Commission) decision in Hutchison 3G UK (Hutchison) and Telefónica UK (Telefónica) merger on May 28, 2020.  If you have not seen it yet, the underlying reason behind the annulment is quite thought-provoking: in a nutshell, the GC held that the Commission made errors in law and manifested errors of assessment, and to boot, infringed essential […]

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16 Jul 2020

Commission Suffers Major Blow in Apple State Aid Case?

General Court brings the curtain down on epic court battle between Apple Ireland and the EU/European Commission in a state aid case labelled the ‘Apple Tax case’. On July 15, 2020, the EU’s General Court overturned the Commission’s decision because the Commission failed to prove Apple had broken competition rules.  Following an in-depth state aid investigation launched in June 2014, the Commission requested information on any rulings granted by Ireland in favour of the Apple Group companies: Apple Operations International (AOI), Apple Sales International (ASI) and Apple Operations Europe (AOE).  The Commission concluded that two tax rulings issued by Ireland to […]

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31 Oct 2019

All for One and One for All! – Antitrust Class Action: Part I

We all love to see the famous musketeer whoop, as a true stalwart of modern society.  Notwithstanding a reality check which may be otherwise, it does not necessarily mean that society is not continually aiming to reverse such “otherwise” state of affairs. Is it really: every man for himself and the Devil take the hindmost?  … even before the eerie courts? Well, fortunately not always. Casting an eye over justice systems around the world, one bumps into something called class action, or collective redress.  In common law systems, with the United States as their standard-bearer, class action is currently in […]

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19 Apr 2019

Gecić Law Continues Its Bullish Run in the Legal 500 Rankings

Gecić Law is delighted to announce yet another commendation by The Legal 500 EMEA, one of the most eminent and prestigious directories of the legal world.     Our Banking & Finance practice continues its bullish run to the national top.   Its head Nikola Aksić was named to the guide’s  “Leading Individuals” elite list of outstanding lawyers in the country, only one year after being recommended by the guide.   The practice has also went up in the overall rankings, securing a Tier 2 recognition. And we haven’t stopped there.  Our Corporate/M&A practice is not lagging behind.  The practice head Ognjen […]

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20 Sep 2018

“Can (’t) poach this” – a new turning point between competition & employment law?

If you open the eighth edition of the Oxford Dictionary of Law and turn to page 461, poaching is defined as “taking game without permission from private land or from land on which the killing of game is restricted. Wild animals cannot usually be stolen […]”.  Although the current degree of development of human rights and basic human decency forbid referring to employees as “wild animals” (at least publicly), and killing is certainly considered a criminal offence, in the corporate world of today to poach someone means to hire an employee from another, often competing, undertaking. Agreements among companies not […]

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13 Jul 2018

Case Closed: Energy Community Drops Dispute Against EPS and Republic of Serbia Over Kolubara B Project

Gecić Law has successfully advised the Republic of Serbia and EPS, one of the largest energy companies in the region, in a probe led by Energy Community Secretariat regarding alleged State support for the multi-million-euro Kolubara B project. On Monday, June 25, 2018, the Energy Community Secretariat announced the parties reached an amicable solution bringing the two-year long case to an end. The Kolubara B power plant project will enable EPS to add 700 MW of electricity annually, constituting the most important investment in the Serbian energy infrastructure in the last four decades. The ruling not only confirmed our team’s […]

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24 May 2018

Bar Association of Vojvodina Discusses Current Serbian Competition Law Issues

On May 23, 2018, the Bar Association of Vojvodina (“AKV”) held a panel in Novi Sad on the topic “Overview of Proceedings before the Serbian National Competition Authority in Light of the Existing Practice and Implications of the New Administrative Procedure Act”.  The speakers on this ever-evolving, complex yet news-worthy topic were Milica Subotić, attorney specializing in competition law matters, Isidora Nikolić Savin,  attorney and specialist for civil and EU business law, and Bogdan Gecić, partner at Gecić Law, specialized in competition/State aid and European law. Moderated by Isidora Nikolić Savin, the panel elaborated on variety of topics such as: overview of proceedings before the […]

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30 Mar 2018

Historic Ruling: Biggest Fine in Serbian Competition Law Annulled

A testament to human rights safeguards or show of a deeply flawed system? Summary Gecić Law successfully assisted EPS Distribution, the leading regional distribution operator, in obtaining a landmark judgement from the Administrative Court that annulled the RSD 330 million fine (cca. EUR 3 million) previously levied against this company by the Serbian watchdog.  The court confirmed that the record fine was imposed in violation of the basic principles of national and EU competition law, as well as ECHR guaranteed human rights.  After a long and tumultuous battle, which took years and a total of three judgements, EPS Distribution finally […]

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04 Dec 2017

3rd Chillin’ Competition Conference in Brussels – A Big League Success

Another year, another Chillin’Competition Conference Imagine for a second a conference where a bunch of “suits”, seasoned scholars and world-recognized experts & regulators spend an entire day laughing, exchanging quips & smug comments and trading Ryan Gosling and SpongeBob SquarePants inspired meme mugs.  Well that’s exactly what happened when over 350 scholars and practitioners of law & economics came together on October 25, 2017 at the Area 42, the “MOST WOW!” venue in Brussels.  Alfonso Lamadrid de Pablo and Pablo Ibañez Colomo, the driving force behind Chillin’Competition blog, world’s favorite source for the latest and greatest in competition law, have once again […]

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29 Nov 2017

The European Union Twists Amazon’s Arm – a Warning for Multinationals in Serbia?

The European Commission has recently concluded that Luxembourg has been granting an undue tax benefit to Amazon in the total amount of EUR250 million. Since Serbian tax authorities have the power to issue binding advance tax opinions—and given that multinationals commonly exploit this option without any consideration of state aid rules—the Commission’s Decision in the Amazon case should raise some eyebrows. The European Commission (Commission) continues its battle against alleged tax avoidance and has recently concluded that Luxembourg has been granting an undue tax benefit to Amazon in the total amount of EUR 250 million. This tax benefit was awarded […]

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16 Nov 2017

The Energy Community Recognizes “Serbian Menarini”

The Energy Community, the quintessential energy organization aiming to extend EU’s internal energy market and EU acquis to southeastern Europe and the Black Sea region, and create an integrated & sustainable pan-European energy market, recently published its 2016/2017 Annual Implementation Report (Report) (available for download), where it officially acknowledged our ongoing constitutional challenge against the Serbian Competition Act, secondary legislation and general regulations.  The report does a noteworthy job in properly identifying some of the key arguments set out in the constitutional challenge, particularly the criminal nature of competition proceedings, lack of procedural safeguards required by the ECHR, and that the […]

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03 Nov 2017

Overhaul of the Serbian Competition Law – Where Are We Now?

A series of interesting developments, unorthodox actions and landmark decisions surrounding the Serbian Protection of Competition Act that took place in recent months seem to be approaching its final resolution in the form of a brand new competition act that will enhance market competition and at the same time protect companies’ human rights. As this peculiar story approaches its final chapter, we analyse the chronological developments and measure expectations on a potentially milestone development for both Serbia, the region and the European antitrust discourse as a whole. The Uprising The first signs of what was to come happened in late […]

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06 Oct 2017

Bar Association of Vojvodina Discusses Constitutionality of the Current Competition Act

Photo courtesy of Aleksandar Milutinović, photographer On October 4, 2017, the Bar Association of Vojvodina (BAV) held a panel in Novi Sad (city known as Serbian Athens) on the topic, “The proceedings of the Commission for Protection of Competition (Commission) against the Bar Association of Serbia (BAS), possible implications for the BAV and constitutional challenges against the Protection of Competition Act”.  The speakers on this complex and news-worthy topic were Isidora Nikolić Savin, attorney and specialist for civil and EU business law, and Bogdan Gecić, partner at Gecić Law. Great attendance and interest by attorneys and associates specialized in various fields […]

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03 Oct 2017

Famous Trust Buster That Took on Delta, First President & NCA Founder Speaks Up Against the Serbian Antitrust Watchdog

The trust buster himself, President Theodore Roosevelt, looks on as a trust is squeezed by Treasury Secretary George B. Cortelyou Illustration by Udo J. Keppler, courtesy of Library of Congress In 2015, Professor Dijana Marković Bajalović, one of the founders and  renowned presidents of the National Competition Authority (NCA), and country’s most respected trust-buster – during her tenure at the NCA, Professor Bajalović took on Delta, for illegal takeover of C Market, and other major incumbents, a feat unheard off at the time (and was eventually removed from office in 2010) – along with others, filed a constitutional challenge against the Protection […]

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22 Sep 2017

Challenges Against Croatia by Agrokor’s Ex-Owner?

For the first time since Agrokor—one of the leading regional companies with almost 60,000 employees, became the biggest national news in the Balkans for facing liquidity issues—former Agrokor owner, Ivica Todoric, broke his silence, claiming he gave up control “under duress” and that “this is not Parmalat” indicating a potential and broader legal battle against the Croatian state on multiple fronts?  Possible ramifications may include EU law, state aid & competition issues, constitutional claims, ECHR and even more.  The extensive public announcement issued today and signed by Mr. Todoric points to “an unconstitutional and illegal nationalization” and states he “will […]

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15 Sep 2017

Serbia and Montenegro: state aid spotlight on corporate profit tax

Both Serbia and Montenegro have come under pressure from the European Commission to amend their respective Corporate Profit Tax Acts to bring tax incentives in line with EU law. This update provides a closer look and analysis, which suggests that amendments are an option worth considering for both Serbia and Montenegro. However, any such legislative change would need to be implemented in a manner that takes into account the interests of all stakeholders, including the interests of investors benefiting from the existing incentive schemes. The European Commission in Chapter 8 of its Screening Report for Serbia, emphasized that specific aid […]

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05 Sep 2017

When sharing is not caring: exchange of information in M&A transactions and Serbian competition law

This update considers how exchange of information, as an essential part of any M&A transaction (from pre-acquisition discussions, through the due diligence procedure, and up to the closing of the transaction), may cause significant competition concerns under the Serbian Competition Act in terms of potential collusion between competitors. The prohibition on entering into restrictive agreements under the current Serbian Competition Act (CA) applies, as a general rule, to sharing of commercially sensitive information between undertakings. Relevant provisions of the CA prohibit contracts, certain contract provisions, express or tacit agreements, concerted practices, as well as decisions of undertakings associations which have […]

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02 Sep 2017

Serbian Chamber of Commerce Proposes Total Revamp of Serbian Competition Law?

Recent developments in Serbia, in particular an unprecedented number of hastily opened investigations and Competition Commission’s push for a complete revamp of the competition act, discussed in a recent PLC article “The Dawn of Dawn Raids or the Twilight of Due Process in Serbia?”, raised many eyebrows and prompted significant dissent from both public and private stakeholders.  The widespread dissent took an interesting twist on August 21, 2017 when the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia (hereinafter: the Chamber of Commerce) issued an invitation for consultations to the members of its Assembly and Managing Board re the application and […]

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10 Jul 2017

The Dawn of Dawn Raids or the Twilight of Due Process in Serbia?

During the last ten days of May 2017, Serbian competition authority has hastily opened an unprecedented number of investigations.  Simultaneously, the authority announced a push for a complete revamp of the competition act.  Reviewing these developments through the lens of the New Administrative Act, which came into force on 1 June 2017, a strong argument can be made that behind these actions is a desire to circumvent the robust human rights safeguards introduced by the New Administrative Act and guaranteed under the ECHR and the Serbian Constitution. During the last ten days of May, the Commission for Protection of Competition of […]

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07 Jul 2017

Frikom, Leading Ice-cream Manufacturer, Under the Loupe of Serbia’s Commission for Protection of Competition for the Second Time

On 29 May 2017, the Serbian Competition Commission initiated ex officio proceedings for the alleged abuse of dominance against Frikom, the largest producer of frozen food in Serbia. The day following the initiation of proceedings, a dawn raid at Frikom’s business premises was carried out. Frikom’s abuse of dominance history This is not the first time the Serbian National Competition Authority (NCA) initiated a proceeding against Frikom. In 2012, the NCA found that Frikom abused its dominance in the wholesale market of industrial ice-cream by engaging in vertical price-fixing, imposing exclusivity on retailers (either through explicit exclusivity clauses or through […]

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04 Jul 2017

Amendments to the Serbian Criminal Code: Restrictive Agreements

One of the amendments to the Serbian Criminal Code (the Code) that will take effect on 1 March 2018 is a new criminal offence for restrictive agreements. Antitrust law has been criminalized in Serbia for decades. So what may be the underlying intention behind these new amendments? In one word: Focus.  The Code does away with abuse of dominance and targets only restrictive agreements.  But it does not stop there.  The new provision is not only narrower than its predecessor but also than the general prohibition on restrictive agreements found in the Serbian Act on Protection of Competition (the Competition […]

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26 Jun 2017

Thresholds for Merger Control in Serbia – a Treasure Island of False Positives?

The Serbian 2009 Protection of Competition Act (as amended in 2013) (the Act) provides for rather low merger control thresholds, compared both to EU law and countries in the region. Thresholds set this low can (and usually do) result in excessive merger control which eventually brings more harm than good to market competition.  In order to put an end to this, a change in decisional practice and/or legislative change in regards to this important aspect of merger control is required. The Act provides for rather low merger control thresholds, compared both to EU law and countries in the region.  Namely, […]

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19 Jun 2017

The Dawn of Dawn Raids or the Twilight of Due Process in Serbia?

In the last 10 days of May 2017, the Commission for Protection of Competition of the Republic of Serbia (hereinafter: the Commission) has decided to roll up its sleeves and put a number of companies suspected of committing competition violations on its conveyor belt.  Unusually high number of unannounced inspections – conducted at the premises of B2M d.o.o., Grafo Trade d.o.o., Trgodunav d.o.o., Master Clean Express d.o.o., AD HI Panonija and Frikom d.o.o. – begs a question, why now?  By way of comparison, the Commission has used its powers to carry out dawn raids on business premises only six times […]

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13 Jun 2017

Quarterly Review of Decisions Taken by Serbia’s Commission for Protection of Competition

During the first quarter of 2017, the Serbian Commission for Protection of Competition of the Republic of Serbia handed down a number of decisions in different areas of competition protection and recognized the necessity of conducting analyses of vital sectors such as telecoms, oil products and oil-derivatives: Restrictive agreements.  The Commission decided to investigate a close collaboration between two large players on the oil products market in Serbia.  On March 13, 2017, the Commission fined two direct competitors – Victoriaoil and Vital – for entering into a mutual cooperation agreement under which Vital agreed to outsource production and packaging of […]

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25 May 2017

“Sharing Economy” in the Spotlight – Let’s Call a Spade a Spade, Says EU Advocate General on Uber

On 11 May 2017, Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the European Union, Mr. Maciej Szpunar, issued a landmark opinion on legal qualification of Uber, the US ride hailing app, claiming that, from the perspective of the EU law, Uber should be characterized and treated as a transport company rather than as a mere information technology provider. The question that was posed to the EU highest court and that, according to Advocate General, needs to be assessed on a rather technical level, deals with Uber’s standing within the EU regulatory framework. Although non-binding, the opinion given by the […]

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04 May 2017

Collaboration Without Notification? Certain Joint Ventures out of the Scope of EC Merger Regulation, Says CJEU Advocate General

On April 27, 2017, Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”),  Ms. Juliane Kokott, issued an opinion stating that not every creation of joint ventures ought to be under control of the European authorities: only formation of those joint ventures which are to be entirely autonomous, full-function entities should be subject to the official scrutiny. As per words of the opinion’s respected author, said issue, although technical in essence, holds a “practical significance” for national and European watchdogs on the one hand, and market undertakings, on the other, given that it tackles the matter of interpretation […]

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12 Apr 2017

EU Competition: Third Time’s a Charm? Not if you Ask the European Commission

On March 29, 2017, the European Commission (“Commission”) officially blocked the third attempt to implement the merger between the London Stock Exchange Group (“LSE”) and Deutsche Börse AG.  Said decision created an insurmountable obstacle to further cooperation of the two groups which was aimed at creating a European powerhouse able to compete with strong American and fast-emerging Asian financial markets. The long planned merger was to give rise to the world’s largest exchange by total income, the biggest for equities listings, and to an entity that would control more derivatives trades than any other entity in the world.1  It would […]

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31 Jan 2017

Lufthansa/airberlin Secure a Green Light for the Wet-Lease Deal from the German Competition Authority

On January 30, 2017, the German competition authority (Ger. Bundeskartellamt) has decided to give final clearance to the implementation of the plan previously announced by two carriers, Lufthansa and airberlin, directed at the wet-lease of 38 aircrafts for the period of six years.  Under current state of affairs, there are no firm grounds for the subject agreement to be prohibited, since, as it was emphasized by Bundeskartellamt, it was not proven that it would in fact result in an actual distortion of competition.  In this context, apart from reaffirming the need for a presumption of competition violation to be proven […]

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23 Dec 2016

The Highest Antitrust Fine to Date Issued in Serbia to EPS Distribution

Serbian Commission for Protection of Competition (the “Commission“) has fined EPS Distribution, a sole electric power distribution system operator, for the abuse of dominant position in the amount of 330 million RSD (cca EUR 2.7 million).  This is the highest antitrust fine imposed by the Serbian regulator. Having established the EPS Distribution indeed held dominant position, the Commission found several abuses of dominant position and in particular: As a result of non-transparent business policy, the company EPS Supply was placed in an advantageous position compared to competitors. Subject behavior was reflected in (i) the fact that unlike other suppliers, only EPS […]

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23 Nov 2016

EU Competition Law: ‘Gun-jumping’ and the Russian Roulette is on!

On November 8 2016, the French Competition Authority (Competition Authority) imposed a fine in the dizzying amount of €80 million on Altice Luxembourg, a telecom-investment company, and its French subsidiary SFR on the basis of their ‘gun-jumping’ activities during the 2014 acquisition of SFR and Virgin Mobile.  After an unannounced probe, the regulator decided to institute said fine upon two companies in order to punish them for implementing their mergers prematurely, and to effectuate a deterrent for this type of antitrust activities among other companies. The unprecedented fine imposed on SFR and Altice is the first of its kind to […]

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22 Nov 2016

Neutrality Everywhere? A Brief Look at the Chillin’Competition Conference 2016

For the second year in a row Chillin’Competition conference drew practitioners, scholars and regulators from across Europe with a promise of an unparalleled array of distinguished speakers focusing on the topic of the neutrality principle and its role in competition law. And it certainly delivered! Alfonso Lamadrid, one of the founders of Chillin’Competition blog (seen giving the opening remarks above), started the conference by stressing the importance of discussing the concept of substantive neutrality, its meaning and scope of application in different fields of competition law. Keynote Address – Margrethe Vestager Keynote speaker Margrethe Vestager, EC Commissioner for Competition, delivered a […]

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27 Sep 2016

EU State Aid: European Commission Bitting More Than It Can Chew?

McDonald’s might be the next company facing the obligation to pay back taxes, only this time to Luxembourg, in the amount of approximately $500 million, according to Financial Times estimates. In December 2015, the European Commission has opened a formal investigation of Luxembourg’s tax treatment in case of McDonald’s. It held a preliminary view that “a tax ruling granted by Luxembourg may have granted McDonald’s an advantageous tax treatment in breach of EU State aid rules.”1  The Commission is yet to render a decision that would conclude said formal investigation against American fast food giant and contain its final judgment […]

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18 May 2016

Opening Pandora’s (in)Box: Social Media & Cartels?

At a recently held conference in Singapore the Director of the Cartels Directorate of DG Competition of the European Commission (the “Commission”) addressed the issue of investigative powers of the Commission and collection of evidence during dawn raids. In particular, they emphasized that the Commission has to “keep up with the technology” in order to effectively combat illegal price fixing and market sharing.  According to him, that could be achieved by finding ways to collect data from online social networks so to determine whether individuals are involved in infringement of competition rules. In that respect, it was emphasized that the […]

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28 Apr 2016

Airline Ticket Pricing and Distribution: The EU Code of Conduct Must Be Respected

The market for the distribution of airline tickets has recently come under the examination of the European Commission (the “Commission”). Upon receiving the formal complaint from the European Technology and Travel Services Association (the “ETTSA”)1, the Commission has sent questionnaires to carriers, travel agents, online reservation sites and global distribution systems asking for the information on exact contract terms and conditions between airlines, travel agents and computerized reservations systems. The main issue that should be determined is whether airlines are impacting customers to book tickets on their own websites rather than using travel agencies and other available computer reservation systems […]

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23 Mar 2016

Is Price Fixing in Agricultural Sector Exempted from General EU Antitrust Rules?

The French Court of Cassation, the highest court in French judiciary,  referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union (the “ECJ”) for the preliminary ruling certain questions related to interpretation on the intersection between farm policy in France under the Common Agricultural Policy (the “CAP”) and the EU antitrust legislation.  The referral stems from the 2012 case in which the French Competition Authority fined 10 growers of endives and seven associations in France with more than 4 million euros for price fixing, managing volumes of endives put on sale and exchange of information. Namely, according to the Article […]

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01 Mar 2016

Slovak Telekom Case – a Reminder of Unexploited Antitrust Damage Claim Mechanisms in European National Laws?

After the European Commission (the “Commission”) by its decision from 5 October 20141 imposed a fine of more than 38 millions of euros on Slovak Telekom for the abuse of its dominant position on Slovak market for broadband services, Slovak Telekom has come to face damage claims from mobile operators Orange Slovensko and SWAN.  The said operators claimed damages they allegedly suffered before Bratislava court, in the amount exceeding 280 million euros on the grounds of the said Commission’s decision that found Slovak Telekom has abused its dominant position. By the same 2014 decision of the Commission, Deutsche Telekom was […]

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17 Feb 2016

Competition Commission Published Its Guidance on Individual Exemptions

On 11 February 2016, the Serbian Commission for the Protection of Competition (the “Competition Commission”) published on its official website the Guidance Concerning Requests for Individual Exemption (the “Guidance”). The overall message the Guidance sends can be seen as a warning that Competition Commission will no longer tolerate delays in notification of restrictive agreements – the deadline for such notification is immediately, otherwise annulment and fines may be incurred. Namely, the Competition Commission, having in mind frequently asked questions in its everyday practice, concluded that it should provide more detailed information regarding the notifications of restrictive agreements.  In particular, as stated […]

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17 Feb 2016

Regional Subsidies Race to the Bottom Intensifies?

A race to the bottom is a socio-economic phrase used to describe a situation in which countries or companies try to compete in order to attract and retain economic activity and the latest data from the Center for Economic Analysis (CEA) in Macedonia suggests that the country is pushing the envelope on its regional counterparts.  CEA recently published that seven companies doing business within Macedonian technological industrial development zones have have been granted a total of 56 million euros in state aid.  In certain cases, the state aid granted amounted up to 47% of overall value of the investment.  Vesna Garvanlieva, CEA […]

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09 Feb 2016

Is Telenor Breaching Competition Rules in Norway?

On 1 February 2016 the European Free Trade Organization (“EFTA”) Surveillance Authority has sent a Statement of Objections to Telenor over the possible breach of EEA competition rules in Norway.  Telenor now has until 11 April to claim its position regarding the received antitrust charge sheet. Namely, the EFTA Surveillance Authority suspects that Telenor may have abused its dominant position in Norway, by obstructing competitors in three markets related to the provision of mobile communications services to Norwegian users: the market for wholesale mobile access and origination services, the market for mobile broadband services to residential customers, and the market for […]

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28 Jan 2016

Serbia Revamps Merger Control Procedure

On 23 January 2016 the Serbian Government adopted the new Regulation on the Content and Method of Submittal of Request for Issuing of Approval for Proposed Concentration (Official Gazette of RS no. 5/2016 – the “Regulation”) that will be effective as of 2 February 2016. The importance of the new Regulation lies in the fact that it introduces a simplified method for notification of the proposed concentration, harmonizing in that regards the national procedure with the existing EU procedure for notification of concentration. The simplified procedure allows merging undertakings to use a shorter notification form for concentration that are unlikely […]

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27 Jan 2016

Ukrainian Competition Watchdog Levies $3.4bn Fine on Gazprom

On January 22, 2016, Yuriy Terentyev, chairman of the Ukrainian competition watchdog, the Anti-Monopoly Committee of Ukraine (AMCU), took to Facebook to announce that Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned gas enterprise and the exclusive supplier of gas through Ukraine’s transit pipeline, will be fined for the abuse of dominant position in the Ukrainian gas transit market.  According to Mr. Terentyev, the AMCU issued a fine of 85 billion hryvnias, or 3.4 billion dollars.  No other details were disclosed.  Whether or not Gazprom ends up paying said amount, this case is particularly interesting as it represents the first time that a fine was actually levied […]

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15 Dec 2015

Gecić Law Contributes the First-Ever Serbia Chapter on Cartels & Leniency to The International Comparative Legal Guide

We are very pleased to announce that Gecić Law contributed the first-ever Serbia chapter for The International Comparative Legal Guides to Cartels & Leniency.  The publication comes at a defining moment in terms of antitrust enforcement in Serbia as the Commission for Protection of Competition (the “Competition Commission”) conducted a number of dawn raids in two ongoing investigations in 2015.  This was the first time the Competition Commission invoked such investigative powers since it was established in 2006.  We have already published a short guide on dawn raids, available here, in the light of the aforementioned developments, and a standalone piece on […]

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14 Dec 2015

Smoke and Mirrors: Tobacco Industry Faces Sweeping Antitrust Investigation in Serbia

The Commission for Protection of Competition (the “Commission”) opened an ex officio procedure against Philip Morris Services (PM), British American Tobacco South East Europe (BAT), JT International, Imperial Tobacco SCG, TDR1, and Monus, as announced on 1 December 2015.2  This followed two dawn raids against PM and BAT.  As indicated in the decision3, the Commission suspects that undertakings involved concerted in order to align their pricing policies for factory manufactured cigarettes, thereby violating Article 10 of the Competition Act (a provision prohibiting restrictive agreements, and mirroring, to considerable extent, Article 101(1) of Treaty on Functioning of the EU – TFEU).  This is the first […]

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09 Dec 2015

Gecić Law Contributes Serbian Chapter to Legal Aspects of Doing Business in Europe – Second Edition

We are pleased to announce that our partner Bogdan Gecić together with Dr. Tatjana Jovanić, an associate professor at the University of Belgrade Faculty of Law, co-authored the Serbian chapter for Legal Aspects of Doing Business in Europe – Second Edition.  The chapter provides a comprehensive overview of most important legal aspects for both domestic and foreign investors and businesses in Serbia.  The chapter provides an in-depth analysis of the following topics: Enterprises: Establishment, Acquisition & Bankruptcy Customs Regulation Investment Incentives and Currency Regulation Competition and Market Regulation Intellectual Property Employment Banking The edition is published by Juris Publishing, Inc., a full-service legal […]

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08 Oct 2015

Croatian Trade Ban: How Economic Operators Can Protect Their Rights Against Anti-Trade State Conducts?

The purpose of this brief is to highlight the consequences of the unilateral decision by the state of Croatia, as a member of the European Union, to close its borders for transport coming from Serbia between 17 and 25 September 2015 and to emphasize potential breaches of legal principles the EU has been founded on. We take into consideration the multitude of acts, treaties and agreements which constitute legal sources of the European Union, as well as precedents set by the highest court of the EU, and explore potential avenues for legal redress for those whose interests were harmed by […]

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05 Oct 2015

A Short Guide on Dawn Raids

This Short Guide provides guidance on how to ensure an effective response to an unannounced inspection (known as a “dawn raid”) of the Commission for Protection of Competition of the Republic of Serbia (further Competition Commission).  Topics covered include: What to do at the beginning of a dawn raid Managing an ongoing dawn raid What to do at the end of a dawn raid Do’s and Don’ts at each stage This Short Guide will consider the key practical points and legal issues to bear in mind when facing a dawn raid.  It should be used to assist your company in providing […]

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05 Oct 2015

Serbian Antitrust Agency Pursues Potential “Gun Jumping” Case

On 4 September 2015, the Competition Commission, Serbian competition watchdog, closed an investigation against Agriser, a subsidiary of Ferrero Trading Lux S.A. and a member of Ferrero Group, owner of brands with global recognition including Nuttela, Kinder, Ferrero Rocher, etc.  This case may, as well, indicate an increasing interest of the Serbian antitrust authority in tackling concentrations in the form of asset deals subject to the privatization procedures.  In April this year Agriser purchased entire assets of Aleksa Šantić, a Serbian company active in the production of primary agriculture produces, within the framework of a public bid procedure governed by Privatization Agency of the […]

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