E.U. & Antitrust
The EU and Antitrust Law Department boasts a team of highly specialized professionals based out of our offices in Spain, Portugal and Belgium. Our clients hail from a wide array of industries: manufacturing, energy, consumer goods, aviation, pharmaceutical, chemical and telecommunications.
We have extensive experience in all facets of antitrust law, providing preventative advice and counseling clients involved in investigations by national and European authorities. The EU and Antitrust practice also covers a broad range of sector-specific engagements, as well as international trade-related matters, including trade defense instruments.
Garrigues began providing EU law advisory services even before Spain joined the European Union. We opened our Brussels office in 1985, advising and representing clients before bodies and courts in all manner of EU law-related matters, in particular, antitrust, state aid, mergers, structural funds, internal market, public procurement, international trade and European tax law, to name but a few.
The Brussels team has made a name for itself in the legal market thanks to the wealth of experience it has amassed in EU law. Our clients include financial institutions and companies from the energy, pharmaceutical distribution, sports, telecommunications, food, retail, movie production, and transportation industries. We regularly advise national public authorities at all levels on EU law issues.
Representation before Spanish and EU bodies and courts
One of the hallmarks of antitrust law is the broad range of institutions tasked with enforcing it. Not only does antitrust law arise in dealings with specialist agencies, such as the Spanish Market and Competition Commission or the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition, but it is also increasingly being applied by ordinary judges and courts, as well as by other administrative bodies throughout the various tiers of government.
The structure of Garrigues’ EU and Antitrust practice, which is present at almost all of our offices and is supported by the other departments and teams specializing in administrative law and litigation, makes liaising between our clients and the competent national and European courts and administrative bodies a great deal easier.
Control of concentrations
Mandatory clearance of concentrations is an essential step in a great number of corporate transactions. It can also, at times, be a critical step, as the ability to perform a transaction in the manner envisaged by the parties may depend on successfully clearing this hurdle.
In recent years, we have been involved in a considerable number of cases, some of which have called for intensive negotiations of commitments with the competent authorities, taking into account the impact of industry-specific legislation. The experience gained in this area enables us to rapidly and efficiently design imaginative solutions to highly complex situations.
Cartels and anticompetitive agreements: The control of anticompetitive agreements and anti-cartel enforcement policies have undergone a sea change in recent years. With the disappearance of the system for notifying agreements to the competition authorities, self-assessment of conduct has become necessary. Elsewhere, leniency systems have revolutionized the battle against cartels, giving rise to new problems that have yet to be fully resolved.
Abuse of dominant position: the string of cases involving Microsoft, as well as the decisions handed down in cases such as Astra Zeneca, British Airways or Michelin, shed light on the weakness of a formal approach under Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, sparking a debate on the need to tailor its application to the current business climate in order to ensure that antitrust policy is not used to protect inefficient operators.
Unfair competition: In spite of their different origins, procedures and instruments, the provisions of Spanish legislation governing unfair practices complement competition law. These provisions enable action to be taken against companies that engage in commercial practices not strictly deemed concerted, where they do not enjoy a dominant position but nevertheless have a significant impact on the market and the public interest.
The European Union is of the most active trading blocs and therefore a major player in international trade. As a member of the World Trade Organization, the EU champions the progressive liberalization of trade and the removal of technical and tariff barriers. As part of its trade policy, the EU frequently makes use of trade defense instruments, such as the anti-dumping measures used against goods imported from outside the EU at abnormally low prices.
Public intervention in the economy and state aid control
Control of the state aid measures benefiting certain companies and industries has been an integral part of the EU’s competition policy from its inception. Nonetheless, the importance of such control has increased enormously in recent years.
The EU and Antitrust Law Department advises companies and public authorities on this area. Noteworthy engagements performed include various cases involving the treatment of tax measures as state aid, infrastructure financing, and aid to credit institutions with restructuring needs.