• French retail food-price plans draw antitrust watchdog's criticism
    14 December 2018
    French plans to give farmers more power vis-à-vis large supermarket chains has come under harsh criticism from the country’s competition authority.

    The regulator has said the plans, which aim to give farmers more bargaining power, could be harmful to consumers.

    The government order, published yesterday, sets out two measures aimed at improving producers’ bargaining power with large distributors such as Carrefour and E.Leclerc.

    By Matthew Newman.

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  • EU's Bayer-Monsanto review factored in risk of 'common shareholders'
    14 December 2018
    Concerns over shareholdings across major agrochemical companies by BlackRock, State Street and other index funds factored into the European Commission's review of Bayer’s takeover of Monsanto, the published decision reveals today.

    The decision to approve the deal features an eight-page section on whether such common shareholdings might be limiting competition. But it concludes that the debate is “relatively recent and not yet entirely settled.”

    The findings build on the regulator’s 2016 decision to clear Dow Chemical’s merger with DuPont, in which an annex spent 21 pages assessing “the effects of common shareholding on market shares and concentration measures.”

    By Andrew Boyce.

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  • US auto associations at USTR hearing push for US-EU standards harmonization
    14 December 2018
    Representatives from four auto manufacturing associations asked a panel of Trump administration officials today to harmonize US auto standards with the European Union. They also asked the officials to avoid placing national security tariffs on automobiles.

    “The [Section] 232 auto tariffs would almost certainly lead to an end to the US-EU trade talks,” said Charles Uthus, who represented the American Automotive Policy Council, referring to national security tariffs levied under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962.

    The Office of the US Trade Representative hosted the auto manufacturing associations and other stakeholders, including US agriculture, in a public hearing at the Department of Commerce to consider negotiating objectives for the pending US-EU trade agreement.

    By Maxwell Fillion.

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  • EU rules on online sales face review over scope, effectiveness
    13 November 2018
    Do EU laws that allow brands to restrict online trade remain fit for purpose amid booming Internet sales? That’s the question EU officials are asking at they trigger an initial review of the rules that underpin Internet distribution.

    The European Commission is seeking feedback over the next three weeks on whether to rewrite the rules, firing the starting gun on a review that will pit Internet giants such as Amazon and eBay against luxury-goods makers.

    The law at issue is the Vertical Block Exemption Regulation, which gives antitrust exemptions to companies wishing to restrict the way their goods are sold online. They can benefit from a carveout if they can argue such controls are need due to the specific nature of the product or to protect a brand.

    By Lewis Crofts.

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  • US global antitrust initiative runs into EU skepticism, but DOJ vows to push ahead
    12 November 2018
    A US initiative to promote global convergence in antitrust procedures is facing resistance from the European Commission, which questions the necessity of creating another international framework for competition enforcement.

    Speaking at an event in Brussels today*, a senior EU antitrust official also pointed to legal constraints in the initial draft of the US proposal which would prohibit some authorities, including Germany’s, from signing up.

    The US proposal appears to be “fixing something which is not broken,” said Kris Dekeyser, Director of Policy at the European Commission’s competition department. He said that the main aims of the “Multilateral framework for procedures in competition law,” or MFP, could be more easily achieved through the framework of the International Competition Network and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

    By Michael Acton.

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