Latest updates

Expected developments and competition law considerations in light of fuel market liberalisation
Schoenherr
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Slovenia
  • 22 October 2020

The Slovenian government has decided that price control measures in the field of fuel products are no longer necessary, meaning that the retail fuel market will be fully liberalised from October 2020. Following deregulation, fair competition in the fuel market will be ensured through the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and its Slovenian equivalents and Articles 6 and 9 of the Prevention of Restriction of Competition Act, which prohibit anti-competitive practices and abuse of dominance in the market.

Sparking change: Renewable Energy Expansion Act published for evaluation
Schoenherr
  • Energy & Natural Resources
  • Austria
  • 19 October 2020

The eagerly awaited draft Renewable Energy Expansion Act (EAG) was recently published for evaluation. To help achieve the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement 2015, the draft creates new framework conditions for the expansion of renewable energy in Austria. In view of the high level of funding, the EAG leaves no doubt that the expansion of renewable energies is one of Austria's main objectives for the next 10 years. However, a look at other countries clearly shows that funding alone will not be enough.

COVID-19 travel restrictions are back
Schoenherr
  • Employment & Immigration
  • Hungary
  • 14 October 2020

Pursuant to Government Decree 408/2020 (VIII 30), Hungary closed its borders to non-Hungarian citizens as of 1 September 2020. The new rules abolish the tricolour system of green, yellow and red countries and qualify virtually all countries as red. Reclosing Hungary's borders appears to be a straightforward measure to fight the pandemic on the one hand, but on the other, there is a risk of going against the European Union's basic principle of free movement. But is that the case here?

Second-instance court rejects PKP Cargo's appeal against abuse decision
Schoenherr
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Poland
  • 01 October 2020

A second-instance court has rejected PKP Cargo's appeal against a Zl14.22 million (€3.2 million) abuse of dominance fine. The Office for Competition and Consumer Protection originally imposed the fine in 2015, as it found that PKP Cargo had abused its dominant position in the domestic rail freight market by unlawfully changing the rules for the sale of freight services, allowing the company to refuse to sign special contracts with competitors.

New FDI screening act
Schoenherr
  • Corporate Finance/M&A
  • Austria
  • 30 September 2020

In July 2020 a new foreign direct investment (FDI) screening act, the Investment Control Act (ICA), entered into force. The ICA, which largely transposes the requirements of the EU Foreign Investment Screening Regula­tion, is in line with the general EU trend of tightening or enacting FDI screening instruments, which has been fuelled by concerns of buy-outs of critical European infrastructure by foreign investors due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

UOKiK will investigate fruit market over potential price fixing
Schoenherr
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Poland
  • 24 September 2020

The National Council of Agricultural Chambers recently asked the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) to look into potential competition rule breaches in the soft fruit market, especially regarding the sale of gooseberries. According to gooseberry growers, the buying price of gooseberries is too low compared with the potential price of further sale. The UOKiK is set to investigate Poland's soft fruit market over suspected price fixing.

Supreme Administrative Court repeals merger clearance for Sopharma Trading/Pharmastore
Schoenherr
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Bulgaria
  • 24 September 2020

The Supreme Administrative Court, acting as the second and final instance, recently repealed the Commission for the Protection of Competition's (CPC's) clearance for the acquisition of Pharmastore OOD by Sopharma Trading AD. In its decision, the Supreme Administrative Court ruled that the CPC had failed to analyse the de facto vertical links between Sopharma and CHS.

E-cigarette distributor fined for resale price maintenance
Schoenherr
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Czech Republic
  • 24 September 2020

In a first-instance decision, the Office for the Protection of Competition has fined RITCHY EU sro Kc6.7 million (€270,000) for resale price maintenance practices. According to the decision, RITCHY EU, a distributor of e-cigarettes and refills, violated the Act on the Protection of Competition between 6 September 2017 and 31 March 2019 by imposing on its customers minimum resale prices for the goods concerned.

City of Prague fined for unfair parking rules
Schoenherr
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Czech Republic
  • 20 August 2020

The Office for the Protection of Competition recently fined the City of Prague Kc980,000 (approximately €36,981) for creating anti-competitive parking conditions for hybrid vehicles. According to the office's press release, between 17 April 2018 and 30 April 2019 the City of Prague violated the Act on the Protection of Competition by favouring the parking of certain hybrid vehicles in paid parking zones in its territory without objectively justifiable reasons.

Administrative court repeals Eurohold-CEZ merger prohibition
Schoenherr
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Bulgaria
  • 20 August 2020

In October 2019 the Commission for the Protection of Competition (CPC) prohibited the Eurohold-CEZ merger due to its 'conglomerate' effect and the significant combined resources of the acquirer's and the target's groups, respectively. An administrative court recently repealed the prohibition on the grounds that the CPC formally opened in-depth proceedings but entirely omitted the in-depth investigation phase, thereby breaching Bulgarian law and the EU Merger Regulation.

New steps towards debureaucratising functioning of companies
Schoenherr
  • Corporate & Commercial
  • Romania
  • 17 August 2020

At the beginning of 2020, legislative initiatives were launched to debureaucratise the functioning of companies established in Romania. In furtherance of these initiatives, in July 2020 20 members of Parliament submitted to the Senate a draft law proposing new amendments to the Companies Law. The draft law proposes numerous amendments – some which are welcome and some which raise questions as to their benefits. This article highlights the main proposed legislative changes and their anticipated effects.

Administrative Court revokes TV channel divestment order
Schoenherr
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Slovenia
  • 13 August 2020

​The Administrative Court recently overturned a Competition Protection Agency (CPA) divestment order, pursuant to which Dutch telecoms provider United Group was required to sell its Sport Klub TV channels for having breached the competition rules relating to market concentration. Although the court's ruling returns the case to the CPA for reconsideration, it does not affect the CPA's earlier decision to fine United Group €3.7 million for the late notification of its acquisition of the Sport Klub TV channels.

Competition analysis of production, transmission and supply of heating for household and non-household needs
Schoenherr
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Bulgaria
  • 13 August 2020

The Commission for Protection of Competition (CPC) recently opened a sector analysis of the markets for the production, transmission and supply of heating for household and non-household needs and vertically connected markets. The CPC pointed out that it has examined various aspects of the energy sector in recent years (eg, proceedings for antitrust breaches by participants on the relevant market).

UOKiK publishes guidelines regarding competition-related fines imposed on managers
Schoenherr
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Poland
  • 13 August 2020

Under the Competition Act, when an undertaking is fined for being a party to a restrictive agreement, the Office for Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) can impose financial penalties on the undertaking's managers. The UOKiK recently published a soft law document which provides detailed rules for determining such penalties. According to the new guidelines, fine calculations are a multi-stage process in which an array of objective and subjective criteria are taken into account.

Access to employee emails – enhanced authority control
Schoenherr
  • Employment & Immigration
  • Hungary
  • 12 August 2020

More than two years after the EU General Data Protection Regulation's entry into force, employers' access to employee email accounts still raises several questions. This has been highlighted by three recent cases in which the Hungarian Data Protection Authority imposed fines on employers in connection with their access to employee mailboxes. This article summarises the legal situation regarding professional email accounts and sets out the key takeaways from the authority's decisions.

Transaction price mechanisms in times of COVID-19
Schoenherr
  • Corporate Finance/M&A
  • Austria
  • 12 August 2020

In times like these, parties should consider the key parameters of a contemplated transaction even more carefully. In addition to factors such as pricing, process timelines and contractual undertakings, parties must properly consider the COVID-19 pandemic's potential economic effects on targets when structuring a deal. This article outlines the differences between the two main purchase price mechanisms that can help to alleviate such economic effects and the pros and cons of each.

Court slashes Agrokor's gun-jumping fine to €1 million
Schoenherr
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Slovenia
  • 30 July 2020

A Ljubljana court recently slashed the fine imposed by the Competition Protection Agency (CPA) on Croatian food company Agrokor from €53.9 million to €1 million. Agrokor has confirmed the court's ruling, but intends to file an appeal and challenge the CPA's decision to confiscate its 70% stake in Slovenian food retailer Mercator.

Travel restrictions are back
Schoenherr
  • Employment & Immigration
  • Hungary
  • 29 July 2020

Following a few weeks of travel restrictions easing, the government has adopted new rules for travellers to Hungary in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The new rules apply to travellers with private passports; therefore, freight traffic is exempt. Do holiday bookings and business trips need to be put on hold yet again?

Derogation from EU competition rules for milk, potato and live plant and flower sectors
Schoenherr
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Bulgaria
  • 09 July 2020

The European Commission recently announced temporary derogations from EU competition rules for the milk, potato and live plant and flower sectors. Shortly thereafter, the Bulgarian Commission for the Protection of Competition published on its website information about temporary derogations from the prohibition on competitors in these sectors entering into agreements or undertaking coordinated practices.

COVID-19 Phase 2 and environmental procedural law
Schoenherr
  • Environment & Climate Change
  • Austria
  • 06 July 2020

Section 3 of the Administrative COVID-19 Accompanying Law adapts the requirements for official acts and public communication with authorities to reflect the restricted freedom of movement and contact. This article examines how the revised version of Section 3 affects environmental law procedures (eg, water, environmental impact assessment, waste, construction and conservation).