20.04.2020

Practice Areas: Competition, Regulatory and EU

COVID-19 | FAQs by Competition, Regulatory and EU team

  1. Is the application of the competition rules suspended?

    No. In fact, the current circumstances encourage anti-competitive practices, such as price-fixing agreements or excessive price abuses. These would harm even more the consumers lifes, so the protection of competition is particularly important in times of COVID-19.

    However, the European Competition Network – which includes the Competition Authority (PCA) and the European Commission (EC) – stated that, in view of the current situation, it will not “actively intervene against necessary and temporary measures put in place in order to avoid a shortage of supply”.

    In addition, the EC adopted a Temporary Framework, “for assessing antitrust issues related to business cooperation in response to situations of urgency stemming from the current COVID-19 outbreak”.

  2. What does this mean?


    That agreements between undertakings concluded to achieve the above end are in line with competition law, provided that they do not restrict competition or that the benefits which the cooperation is intended to achieve justify such restriction, in accordance with the applicable legal framework.


  3. But what about State Aid, should it not be allowed in this period?

    A state aid granted to undertakings which distorts or threatens to distort competition may be considered compatible with the internal market pursuant to the Treaty if it is intended to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of a Member State (MS).

    As the present sanitary crisis affects all MS, the EC adopted a second Temporary Framework, “to enable Member States to use the full flexibility foreseen under State aid rules to support the economy in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak”. It was in this context that the measures proposed by Portugal were approved on 22 March and 4 and 8 April 2020.

  4. What happens to sanction and merger control procedures?

    Regarding the PCA sanction procedures, deadlines are suspended, until the national public health authority determines that this sanitary crisis has ended. However, the practice of acts through non-presential means is admitted.

    As for merger control procedures, these continue to run. However, the PCA reserved appointments in person only for cases of “absolute necessity that cannot be postponed

    As for the EC, it has also encouraged electronic communications and urged companies to postpone notifications of mergers, given the difficulties it currently faces in collecting information. In addition, It stated that it is prepared to decide merger cases provided that the parties demonstrate compelling reasons for the notification to proceed without delay.

    So far, there is no official position on ongoing cases in general, so the respective deadlines are to be met.

  5. What about appeals and private enforcement?

    Regarding the PCA sanction procedures, deadlines are suspended, until the national public health authority determines that this sanitary crisis has ended. However, the practice of acts through non-presential means is admitted.

    As for merger control procedures, these continue to run. However, the PCA reserved appointments in person only for cases of “absolute necessity that cannot be postponed

    As for the EC, it has also encouraged electronic communications and urged companies to postpone notifications of mergers, given the difficulties it currently faces in collecting information. In addition, It stated that it is prepared to decide merger cases provided that the parties demonstrate compelling reasons for the notification to proceed without delay.

    So far, there is no official position on ongoing cases in general, so the respective deadlines are to be met.

Knowledge

By default, this site uses cookies.
These cookies are intended to optimize your browsing experience on this site.

Know More