Competition issues in the annual report 2020 of the Court of Justice of the European Union. JIRP

The text reproduces the content from the Summary The Year in Review, pages. 48 – 50. Multilingual
versions accesible at page.

The General Court annulled in part the Commission’s inspection decisions following suspicions
of anticompetitive practices adopted by a number of French undertakings in the distribution
sector. It considered that the Commission had failed to show that it had sufficiently strong
evidence to suspect exchanges of information concerning the future commercial strategies of
the undertakings. (Judgments of 5 October 2020, Casino and Others, T-249/17 and Others)

The General Court confirmed the existence, established by the Commission, of a cartel in the
smart card chip sector between several undertakings that had coordinated their pricing policy.
The General Court ordered, however, that the fine imposed by the Commission, inter alia on
Infineon, be reduced given the limited number of the anticompetitive contacts which Infineon
had had with its competitors and the insufficient evidence concerning one of the
anticompetitive contacts identified by the Commission. Î Judgment of 8 July 2020, Infineon
Technologies, T-758/14 RENV Competition Free competition contributes to the improvement of
the well-being of Union citizens by offering them a wider choice of higher quality goods and
services at more competitive prices. To achieve this, EU rules seek to prevent restrictions and
distortions of competition within the internal market. The most important standards in this area
are enshrined in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union: they prohibit agreements
likely to hinder free competition, as well as the abuse of a dominant position. In 2020, the Court
of Justice and the General Court interpreted and applied those rules in a number of cases
concerning different sectors of the economy. The General Court – Ensuring EU Institutions
Respect EU Law Watch the video on YouTube Chaîne officielle sur YouTube. Nombre de vues 0
30 000 60 000 90 000 120 000 150 000 2018 83 000 2019 124 608 A | A look back at the most
important judgments of the year 47

For the first time, the General Court had occasion to review the lawfulness of rules adopted by
an international sports federation. The General Court held that the rules of the International
Skating Union distorted free competition by providing for penalties for athletes taking part in
speed skating events not recognised by it. The General Court considered that the restrictions
deriving from the pre-authorisation system provided for by the rules at issue could not be
justified by the objective of protecting the integrity of the sport. Î Judgment of 16 December
2020, International Skating Union, T-93/18

The General Court upheld the Commission’s decision finding that Lietuvos geležinkeliai AB (LG),
the national railway company of Lithuania, abused its dominant position on the Lithuanian rail
freight market. LG had concluded a rail freight agreement with Orlen for the purpose of
transporting oil products to Western Europe. Following a dispute with LG, Orlen wished to
entrust the transport of its products to the national railway company of Latvia. By removing the
track which ran from the place of departure of its goods, in Lithuania, to Latvia, LG prevented
the rival Latvian company from concluding the agreement with Orlen. Such conduct was found
to constitute abuse of a dominant position. Î Judgment of 18 November 2020, Lietuvos
geležinkeliai AB, T-814/17

In proceedings between a company operating a hotel in Germany and BV, a
company governed by Netherlands law operating an accommodation booking platform, the
Court of Justice, in a reference for a preliminary ruling from a German court, held that a hotel
using the platform may bring proceedings against before a court of
the Member State in which that hotel is established in order to bring to an end a possible abuse
of a dominant position. claimed that the action against it should be brought before
a court of the Member State in which it has its seat. The Court of Justice rejected that argument.
Î Judgment of 24 November 2020, Wikingerhof GmbH & Co. KG v BV., C-59/19

A dominant position on the electronic communications and media markets may pose a risk to
pluralism of information. That finding was the basis of Italian legislation prohibiting undertakings
holding a significant position in the electronic communications sector from acquiring a
significant economic dimension in the media sector. In the context of the hostile acquisition
campaign for shares in the Italian company Mediaset launched by the French company Vivendi
and the proceedings that followed, the Court of Justice held, however, that such legislation
constitutes a prohibited impediment to the right of establishment when it does not have the

aim of safeguarding pluralism of information. Î Judgment of 3 September 2020, Vivendi SA, C-
719/1 Avector/ 48

With regard to concentrations between undertakings, the General Court annulled the
Commission’s decision to block the proposed acquisition of Telefónica UK by Hutchinson 3G UK.
It held that the Commission had not demonstrated that such an acquisition would establish a
significant impediment to effective competition on the UK mobile telephony market. It also
noted that the Commission had not demonstrated that such an operation would lead to an
increase in prices for services and a reduction in their quality. Î Judgment of 28 May 2020, CK
Telecoms UK Investments, T-399/16

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