EU/Competition: Transport and Shipping
The Commission approved 17.08.20 Danish and Swedish plans to contribute up to SEK 11 billion to the recapitalisation of SAS. The measure was approved under the State aid Temporary Framework. The recapitalisation measure is part of a larger recapitalisation package, which also foresees a significant participation of private investors, including the conversion of outstanding privately-held debt instruments into equity. The airline Norwegian has reached out for similar assistance from Sweden and Denmark, albeit unsuccessfully. Read more here.
The UK Brexit transition phase ends 31.12.20, and there are no current indication that the transition phase will be extended. Through 2020, the UK has – from an internal market perspective – been a complete member of all provisions and schemes similarly to an EU member state. However, if the UK leaves the EU 31.12.20 with no new trade agreement, the “hard Brexit” discussed in 2018-2019 will, in practice, occur 31.12.20 – – and the UK will trade on WTO terms as of 01.01.21. The EU/UK negotiations on a new trade agreement have not been suspended, however, all major (sensitive) issues seem still to be on the table. The Commission’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, had the following observation mid August “…too often this week, it felt as if we were going backwards more than forwards… Today, at this stage, an agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union seems unlikely.” In other words, a 31.12.20 “hard Brexit” seems likely. The Commission published an updated “Brexit Readiness” checklist in August 2020. The new guidance reflects the status of the negotiations – and that an ambitious trade agreement is impossible – by stating that “…changes are inevitable, regardless of the outcome of the ongoing EU-UK negotiations, and risk compounding the pressure that businesses are already under due to the COVID-19 outbreak”. The checklist provides an overview of the main areas of change that will take place in any event as of 01.01.21. The basic checklist can be visited here, and the sectoral stakeholder ‘readiness notices’ published by the Commission services (all updated in 2020) can be visited here.
Disclosure requirements have been imposed on all grocery store chains in Norway in respect of acquisitions relating to the distribution and sale of groceries, regardless of the general threshold in Norwegian rules on merger control. The reason for imposing such requirements is that also smaller acquisitions falling below merger notification thresholds, may cause harm to competition at the local or national level. Norgesgruppen acquired 16.01.18 the premises of a grocery store at Sædalssvingene in Bergen, Norway. Both then and now, Coop operates a grocery store at that location. According to the disclosure requirements, Norgesgruppen should have informed the Competition Authority of the acquisition within three working days after the conclusion of the agreement. The acquisition was, however, only notified to the Authority on 17.04.18. Consequently, Norgesgruppen was fined MNOK 20 in a decision of 27.08.20.