The European Court of Justice (ECJ) recently found that – in the context of Article 5 of EU Regulation 261/2004, which can exempt air carriers from their obligation to compensate passengers – a collision between an aircraft and a bird may constitute extraordinary circumstances. The ECJ adopted a divergent approach in its decision that appears to disregard the EU advocate general's 2016 opinion regarding the same case.
As part of its ambitious aviation strategy, the European Commission has proposed harmonising European drone rules. The Single European Sky Air Traffic Management Research Joint Undertaking recently unveiled U-Space – a blueprint on the use of drones in low-level airspace. The European Aviation Safety Agency is seeing to it that U-Space has rules that ensure the safe integration of drones into the airspace.
Virtual currencies have been analysed and considered by numerous policymakers at the EU level. According to the European Central Bank, the legal definition of 'virtual currencies' tends to vary depending on the context, while the European Banking Authority defines them as a digital representation of value that is neither issued by a central bank or public authority nor necessarily attached to a fiat currency, but used as a means of exchange and transferred, stored or traded electronically.
The European Commission recently published a legislative proposal amending the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive to modify creditor hierarchy in insolvency with a view to facilitating the resolution of EU credit institutions. The proposal, which was fast tracked, resulted in the adoption of EU Directive 2017/2399, which amends the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive as regards the ranking of debt instruments in insolvency.
The EU Prospectus Regulation's provisions concerning the format and content requirements for prospectuses will come into force on 1 July 2019. Ahead of the provisions, the European Securities and Markets Association intends to publish final draft guidelines on risk factors in early 2019. Issuers and their advisers will then need to ensure that they comply with the new regime in respect of any prospectuses to be published on or after 21 July 2019.
EU Directive 2017/828, amending Directive 2007/36/EC as regards the encouragement of long-term shareholder engagement, was recently published. The directive provides several options for member states when transposing the directive into national law. Depending on how the respective national legislature make use of these options, there will be minor or major changes to the national law.
Calls to end geo-blocking have grown more audible since the start of the European Commission mandate in 2014 and its digital single market strategy. But does the reality live up to the rhetoric? The commission's new Geo-blocking Regulation sets out certain situations where treating consumers differently is unjustifiable (eg, online and offline sales of goods and services) and applies only to transactions that have a cross-border element.
The European Commission recently imposed a record fine of €4.34 billion on Google. The commission identified a number of abuses and concluded that Google is dominant in the markets for general internet search services, licensable smart mobile operating systems and app stores for the Android mobile operating system. In such an innovative and competitive industry, a decision and fine on this scale arguably sends the wrong message.
Discriminatory pricing as an abuse is a little-deployed area of EU antitrust law and there has been no recent enforcement at the European Commission level. The few existing cases concern extreme facts, involving natural or statutory monopolies such as airports or copyright collecting societies. A recent European Court of Justice judgment offers welcome clarification of the case law. It starts with the premise that not all price differences are illegal.
The General Court has confirmed that suppliers may restrict aftermarket access to authorised repairers for their spare parts. Suppliers can refuse unauthorised repairers access, even if they are considered to have a dominant market position over those parts. The case clarifies that even if suppliers are considered to be a monopoly supplier of spare parts or consumables for their installed base of customers, they are still entitled to control how their parts or consumables are distributed.
The European Court of Justice recently dismissed an appeal against a General Court judgment which largely upheld the European Commission's prohibition decision taken against Telefónica and Portugal Telecom for a non-compete covenant in a share purchase agreement. The non-compete agreement purported to restrain the parties from competing in Portugal and Spain "to the extent permitted by law".