Latest updates

EIAs: grubbing ups and path clearances for overhead electrical power lines to be treated differently
Schoenherr
  • Environment & Climate Change
  • Austria
  • 25 January 2021

When it comes to clearing a path in a forest to construct and operate an overhead electrical power line, electricity grid operators face various legal issues. In its recent decision on the 380kV Salzburg line, the Supreme Administrative Court considered whether the permitting requirements of the Forestry Act stipulated for grubbing ups must also be applied to path clearances in an EIA permitting procedure by reason of EU law.

CPC introduces pre-notification contact in merger proceedings
Schoenherr
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Bulgaria
  • 21 January 2021

From 1 January 2021, the Commission for the Protection of Competition (CPC) will be available for pre-notification discussions. To this end, the CPC has published rules for such contact. The CPC's rules on pre-notification contact are a step in the right direction in implementing best European practices on merger control. Nonetheless, it remains to be seen how practical they will be for the notifying parties.

Competition authority opens gun-jumping investigation in pharmacy sector
Schoenherr
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Serbia
  • 21 January 2021

The Commission for Protection of Competition (CPC) is investigating whether Pharmacy Janković has beached the obligation to notify the acquisition of control over a pharmacy chain in the town of Zrenjanin. Zrenjanin has granted a concession to the pharmacy to finance, revitalise, manage and run pharmaceutical operations for 15 years.

Network reserve to become part of congestion management system
Schoenherr
  • Energy & Natural Resources
  • Austria
  • 18 January 2021

With an amendment to the Electricity Industry and Organisation Act passed by Parliament, the network reserve will become part of Austria's congestion management system. The aim of the network reserve is to achieve network stability and security of supply in an efficient and cost-effective manner. Procurement is carried out within the framework of a transparent, non-discriminatory and market-oriented tendering procedure.

Future Hungarian 'superbank' exempted from merger control scrutiny
Schoenherr
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Hungary
  • 14 January 2021

The planned merger of three banks into a new Hungarian bank holding (a so-called 'superbank') was announced in Spring 2020. Normally, such a merger would require competition authority approval. However, the government has issued a decree exempting the superbank's merger from competition scrutiny. The government held that the measure was required from a public interest standpoint in order to boost the Hungarian financial sector's competitiveness.

Competition authority opens investigation into potential RPM practice in consumer electronics market
Schoenherr
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Serbia
  • 14 January 2021

The Commission for Protection of Competition (CPC) has opened an investigation and conducted dawn raids at the premises of importers and wholesalers of consumer electronics for possible anti-competitive agreements concerning resale price maintenance. Based on a preliminary assessment, the CPC believes that importers and wholesalers imposed price restrictions on retailers.

Competition authority imposes fine on retailer for abuse of significant market power
Schoenherr
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Czech Republic
  • 14 January 2021

The Office for the Protection of Competition recently announced in a press release that it had imposed a Kc32 million (approximately €1.2 million) fine on Czech retail chain HRUŠKA, spol sro for an alleged abuse of significant market power. According to the press release, the retail chain allegedly violated the Significant Market Power Act by fully transferring all business risks and losses associated with the sale of goods nearing their expiration date to dozens of its suppliers between 2016 and 2019.

Croatian Competition Agency examines legality of exclusivity clauses in lease agreements
Schoenherr
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Croatia
  • 14 January 2021

The Croatian Competition Agency (CCA) recently closed the infringement proceeding against Croatia's largest insurer which had been opened ex officio. The proceeding concerned the exclusivity clauses in the insurer's commercial lease agreements; the CCA's main concern was that the clauses prevented landlords from cooperating with other insurers and thus restricted potential competition in the insurance market.

Compliance and competition enforcement in sales and promotions – where does Black Friday guide us?
Schoenherr
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Hungary
  • 10 December 2020

The Hungarian Competition Authority (HCA) is one of the few competition enforcers in Europe with a prominent consumer protection enforcement practice. The HCA's holiday sales practice has tremendous potential to aid companies which aim to throw large-scale sales but at the same time intend to avoid large-scale fines. This article distils the HCA's recent practice into clear guidelines in order to assist companies with any sales or promotional campaigns.

HCA receives boost in enforcement against large retail chains
Schoenherr
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Hungary
  • 03 December 2020

In 2015 the Hungarian Competition Authority (HCA) imposed a staggering fine on Auchan for abusing its significant market power. The HUF1,06 billion (approximately €3 million) fine is the highest ever imposed by the authority for the infringement of the Trade Act. Although the decision is from 2015, the Hungarian courts have only now put an end to the judicial review. The Supreme Court recently upheld the HCA's decision in its entirety.

Supreme Administrative Court backs gun-jumping decision
Schoenherr
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Czech Republic
  • 03 December 2020

In 2017 the Office for the Protection of Competition imposed a gun-jumping fine of Kc4.9 million (approximately €190,000) on Armex Oil sro, a company active in the wholesale fuel market (gasoline and diesel). However, Armex Oil challenged the amount of the fine before the competent regional court, which found the fine to be disproportionate and reduced it. The office then filed an appeal with the Supreme Administrative Court, which ultimately backed the original fine.

Limited stay-at-home orders and travel restrictions: what are you allowed to do?
Schoenherr
  • Employment & Immigration
  • Hungary
  • 02 December 2020

As of 4 November 2020 and 11 November 2020, the government introduced new COVID-19 restrictions, including the limited order to stay at home between 8:00pm and 5:00am. The law treats employment and business-related travel as a key exception from the rules. Thus, for business purposes, not only is cross-border travelling allowed, but so is travelling during curfew hours.

Dashcams – safety versus privacy? The Austrian perspective
Schoenherr
  • Tech, Data, Telecoms & Media
  • Austria
  • 27 November 2020

Dashcams have become increasingly popular in recent years and a built-in dashcam is now the most sought-after feature among car buyers. Buyers' primary motivation is self-explanatory: recorded footage can be used as evidence in case of an accident. However, whether dashcams are incompatible with privacy and data protection law and thus illegal on Austrian roads is a tricky question.

Competition Protection Agency investigates potential collusion among four LPG providers
Schoenherr
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Slovenia
  • 26 November 2020

The Competition Protection Agency has initiated an investigation into a potential restrictive agreement or concerted practices among four energy companies. The agency has reasons to believe that the companies breached Article 6 of the Prevention of the Restriction of Competition Act and Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union by agreeing to accept returns of only their own liquefied petroleum gas cylinders.

New law on debureaucratising functioning of companies enters into force
Schoenherr
  • Corporate & Commercial
  • Romania
  • 16 November 2020

Law 223/2020 recently introduced a series of important changes to the Companies Law. It appears that the goal of these provisions is to further simplify the legal requirements for setting up and operating limited liability companies so that they become more attractive to investors seeking to carry out business in Romania.

Investigation into TikTok – HCA takes on the tech world
Schoenherr
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Hungary
  • 12 November 2020

The Hungarian Competition Authority (HCA) recently initiated an investigation into TikTok, the popular social media platform. TikTok's capacity to generate vast amounts of consumer data and shower its users with ads has already sounded several alarm bells as regulators attempt to make sense of the phenomena that is digitalisation. The HCA took the initiative to scrutinise the platform with a focus on consumer protection.

European Commission comments on Western Balkan countries' level of harmonisation of antitrust rules
Schoenherr
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • International
  • 05 November 2020

The European Commission recently adopted the 'enlargement package' for 2020, which encompasses reports on candidate and potential candidate countries' progress towards EU accession. The progress reports contain, among other things, an assessment of the level of harmonisation of the Western Balkan countries' national competition laws with EU competition law and practice.

Has Croatia implemented FDI screening mechanism?
Schoenherr
  • Corporate Finance/M&A
  • Croatia
  • 04 November 2020

The Regulation on the Implementation of the EU Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Screening Regulation (the Implementing Regulation) recently entered into force. The foreign investment clearance concept has not been regulated under Croatian law before and, even with the Implementation Regulation's entry into force, little has changed. This article examines FDI in Croatia.

More pressure selling in hotel booking sector – cooperation with HCA prevents substantial fine
Schoenherr
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Hungary
  • 29 October 2020

Following the first market study in the consumer protection field in 2019 relating to the application of digital comparison tools, the Hungarian Competition Authority did not hesitate to apply its findings in practice. In early 2020 it imposed a record fine on Booking.com BV for unfair commercial practices. This has now been followed by a decision that Szallas.hu, the biggest local market player and a main competitor of Booking.com, engaged in unfair practices. However, this time, no fine was imposed.

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.