This month major changes to European Community competition law come into force:
Regulation 1/2003 (the Modernisation Regulation) significantly alters the way in which Article 81 and Article 82 of the EC Treaty are implemented and enforced. The Modernisation Regulation removes the system of advance approval of agreements. Agreements that satisfy the Article 81(3) conditions for exemption are valid from the outset, without requiring prior notification to, and approval of, the European Commission. The Regulation also introduces parallel competence to apply Articles 81 and 82 in their entirety for the Commission, national competition authorities and national courts. The Commission will focus its investigation and enforcement powers on only the most serious types of cross-border cases.
Ten new countries join the European Union. Although the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia have implemented EC competition rules, there is a gap between the existence of the rules and awareness of them. There is also a lack of strict enforcement of such rules. The EC regime for state aid control is also directly applicable in the new member states.
The new revised EC Merger Regulation 139/2004 also came into force on 1 May. Under the new Regulation, concentrations will be found to be incompatible with the common market where they would significantly impede effective competition in the common market, or in a substantial part of it, in particular as a result of the creation or strengthening of a dominant position.
Procedures for the referral of cases between the Commission and member state competition authorities have been revised. Other procedural changes:
remove the time limit for notifying concentrations to the Commission.
amend the time limits for the Commission’s assessment of notified cases.
strengthen the Commission’s powers of investigation and enforcement, to bring them closer into line with those in the Modernisation Regulation.
The new technology transfer block exemption regulation, replacing Regulation 240/96, also entered into force. It reflects the Commission’s new economic and effects-focused approach towards block exemptions.
PLC Competition Law, a revolutionary new support service for competition law specialists and other commercial lawyers who use competition law in their practices, tracks the development of such legislative changes and their implications.
PLC Competition Law aims to keep its users up to date with developments in key areas of competition law and to provide them with practical support through guidance notes and other resources. The service covers all aspects of EC competition law and practice and also provides general information about the main competition laws applicable in EU member states and other major commercial jurisdictions.
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