On June 29, 2023, the Court of Justice ruled on questions referred by the Lisbon Court of Appeals relating to alleged resale price maintenance (“RPM”) by Super Bock, a Portuguese beverage manufacturer. The Court of Justice held, inter alia, that a vertical agreement fixing minimum prices is not necessarily a restriction of competition by object despite its characterization as a “hardcore restriction” under the Vertical Block Exemption Regulation (“VBER”) and, in certain circumstances, the existence of an agreement may be inferred from “explicit or tacit acquiescence” by the distributors to an invitation to comply with minimum resale prices.
On July 4, 2023, the Commission conditionally approved, in Phase I, Advent’s acquisition of market research provider GfK through its subsidiary NielsenIQ, after Advent pulled and refiled the merger notification. The approval is subject to the divestment of GfK’s global consumer panel services (“CPS”) business, excluding Russia.
On July 13, 2023, the Court of Justice delivered its much anticipated judgment in Commission v. CK Telecoms, setting aside the General Court’s landmark judgment that annulled the Commission’s 2016 prohibition of the proposed 4-to-3 merger between Telefónica Europe Plc (“O2”) and Hutchinson 3G UK Investments Limited (“Three”), the second and fourth largest mobile network operators in the UK, that would have created a new market leader with a combined share above 40%.
On July 12, 2023, the Commission approved Broadcom’s proposed €55 billion acquisition of VMware after a Phase II review ruling out most of its initial concerns. The Commission’s decision is subject to technology access and interoperability remedies.
On July 4, 2023, the Court of Justice delivered its judgment in Meta Platforms Inc. v. Bundeskartellamt, following a request for a preliminary ruling from the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court (“Düsseldorf Court”) on the validity of the German Federal Cartel Office (“FCO”) 2019 decision finding that Meta Platforms (“Meta”) abused its dominant position by collecting and processing data without users giving their consent freely. The Court of Justice confirmed that competition authorities can find breach of data protection rules under the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) where that finding is necessary to establish the existence of an abuse of dominance under Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (“TFEU”). The Court of Justice however emphasized that competition authorities are required to consult and cooperate with national supervisory authorities in charge of GDPR enforcement (“GDPR authorities”).
On June 30, 2022, the European Commission (“EC”) launched a public consultation seeking feedback on the performance of Regulation 1/2003 and Regulation 773/2004 (the “Regulations”), which govern the enforcement procedure of EU antitrust law. Interested parties are invited to provide comments by October 6, 2022.