Competition

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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