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Recent developments in EU cartels

Cavendish banana from MaracaiboAn overview of some of the very recent industrial cartels that harm the welfare of intermediate consumers, previously on appeal before the ECJ, reveals the fantastic work done against evil cartels by the Directorate-General for Competition across various sectors of the economy ranging from electric cables (C-37/13 P, Nexans SA, Nexans France SAS v EC, 25 June 2014), industrial bags (C-243/12 P, FLS Plast A/S v EC, 19 June 2014; Case C-36/12, Armando Alvarez SA v EC, 22 May 2014; Case C-35/12 P, Plásticos Españoles SA (ASPLA) v EC, 22 May 2014), road pavement bitumen (C-612/12 P, Ballast Nedam NV v EC, 27 March 2014), bearings for cars and trucks (EC, Almunia’s Speech/14/233, 19 March 2014), Calcium carbide and magnesium cartel (Case C-90/13 P, 1.garantovana s.a. v EC, 15 May 2014), high voltage power cables cartel (EC, IP/14/358, 2 April 2014), gas insulated switchgear (Joined Cases C-231/11 P to C-233/11 P, EC v Simemens AG Österreich, VA Tech Transmission & Distribution et al, Nuova Magrini Galileo SpA, 10 April 2014), heat stabilisers (Case T-30/10, Regens SpA v EC, 14 May 2014; Case T-181/10, Reagens SpA v EC, 20 March 2014), plastic industrial bags (Case C-238/12 P, FLSmidth & Co A/S v EC, 30 April 2014), zip fasteners (Opinion of AG Wathelet, Case C-408/12 P, YKK Corp., YKK Holding Europe BV, YKK Stocko Fasteners GmbH v EC, 12 February 2014), carbonless paper (Case C-414/12 P, Bolloré v EC, 8 May 2014) to liquid crystal display panels for TVs, notebooks and PC monitors (Case T-91/11, InnoLux Corp v EC, 27 February 2014). For previous cases before the General Court see chapter 8 of Faull & Nikpay: The EU Law of Competition (3rd ed).

In addition, the recent €138 million fine being imposed on producers of smart card chips (EC, IP/14/960, 3 September 2014) that are used in mobile telephone, such as SIM cards, bank and identity cards, and the interest rate derivatives cartel (Comp 39 961 – Yen Interest Rate Derivatives (YIRD) and Case 39914 – Euro Interest Rate Derivatives, decision not yet available, thus reported in the EC’s Report on Competition Policy 2013, COM (2014) 249 FINAL, 6 May 2014) involving the forward rate agreements and credit default swaps etc. stand out as most welcome developments in the banking sector in the aftermath of the financial crisis. The €1.7 billion fine being imposed on eight banks for their involvement in the derivatives cartel is one of the best in years for the EU budget.

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Dr Anca Chirita, Lecturer in Competition Law, Durham Law School, UK

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