April 23, 2020 |
This news update is a follow-up to our news update of 25 March 2020 regarding the first reactions of the European competition agencies to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The competition agencies acknowledge the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on businesses. They emphasised that they will not intervene if companies temporarily cooperate, if these forms of cooperation are necessary to ensure the supply and fair distribution of scarce products to consumers. The authorities however also warned that competition laws continue to apply in the current circumstances. This raises the more granular question of exactly what forms of cooperation are permitted during the coronavirus outbreak from a competition law perspective.
This News Update starts with the basic legal framework of the cartel prohibition (section 2), and then discusses some specific forms of cooperation in times of crisis and their permissibility (section 3). It looks at the possibility of requesting a comfort letter as introduced by the Commission in its recently published Temporary Framework for assessing antitrust issues related to business cooperation in response to situations of urgency stemming from the current COVID-19 outbreak (section 4). For a discussion of this Temporary Framework, we also refer to our Healthcare News Update of 16 April 2020.
Compliments of Houthoff – a member of the EACCNY.