The General Court of the European Union will re-examine a request from the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) the sentence in which it annulled the veto of the European Commission to the purchase of Telefónica Europe (O2) by Hutchison 3G UK Investments ( three).
The CJEU has annulled the sentence this Thursday, July 13, in a ruling in which it is affirmed that the General Court made several errors in the interpretation of the regulation when initially judging the case, which led it to annul the blockade to the operation established by Brussels.
These misinterpretations would be based on the merger regulation and would result in the imposition of an unfounded evidentiary requirement, as well as an excessively restrictive interpretation that would conflict with the fines and intentions of this regulation.
Network quality could decrease
Likewise, it considers that the first ruling erred when comparing this matter with the other merger matters examined by the Commission and also by not having carried out –once its examination on the grounds of the factors and the findings questioned s by CK Telecoms in the first instance, and taking into account the result of that examination– an overall assessment of the factors and the relevant findings to verify whether the Commission demonstrated the existence of a significant obstacle to effective competition.
The CJEU also considers that the Commission did indeed carry out an assessment of a possible degradation of the quality of the network of the entity resulting from the planned concentration and that the General Court distorted its decision by declaring that this had not been done precision
Thus, given the magnitude, nature and scope of the errors incurred by the General Court, which succeeded in its reasoning as a whole, the Court of Justice annuls the appealed judgment and refers the matter back to the General Court, which will judge again this dispute in its entirety taking into account all the clarifications provided by the Court of Justice in the framework of the appeal.
Response from the European Commission
After hearing the ruling, the European Commission highlighted in a statement that the ruling “goes beyond” the specific circumstances of the merger between O2 and Hutchinson, since it “clarifies a fundamental issue” of the current legislation on concentration control in the EU
The vice president of the Community Executive in charge of Competition, Margrethe Vestager, assessed that the sentence confirms the interpretation that Brussels has followed when analyzing concentrations that “do not create or strengthen a dominant position in the market” but do generate a “significant impediment” on competition ncia
“Overall, today’s ruling validates our approach to evaluating mergers (…) and our commitment to protect European consumers through rigorous review of transactions that give rise to serious concerns, even when they do not create or reinforce a dominant position,” he said in a statement.