Uitwerking oefenvragen EU Law

Deze samenvatting is gebaseerd op het studiejaar 2013-2014.


Open vragen

 

Question 1

 

Croketta is the main producer of croquettes and French fries in the Netherlands. Its shops can mainly be found in Dutch train stations. Their success is due to the way the croquettes are produced and distributed: each shop has a system of unique small ovens, which keep the croquettes warm and crunchy up to the moment that they are sold.

 

Croketta decides to expand its business activities in other European countries, namely France, Italy and Greece. Croketta concludes several distribution agreements with local retailers in these countries, which aim at becoming Croketta’s official distributors. Croketta requires the applicant distributor to satisfy two conditions:

 

  • One of the employees of the applicant distributor should attend a two-week course in Amsterdam to learn Croketta’s business model.

  • The distributor is required to introduce the system of small ovens that is used by Croketta in the Netherlands in order to safeguard the freshness and crunchiness of the croquettes in these countries.

 

Patatina is a store placed in Milan Central station which sells snacks. Patatina would like to become one of the official distributors of Croketta. However, it does not have the system of small ovens requested by Croketta. In addition, Patatina is not sure if its clients would switch their consumption habits to croquettes. Finally, Patatina believes that its employees know how to prepare excellent croquettes, without the need to pay for a training course in Amsterdam to learn how to do it. Therefore, Patatina does not consider such investments necessary. Patatina submits a complaint to the Italian Competition Authority arguing that the distribution agreement that Croketta intends to conclude with its distributors is in breach of the competition law rules. At the same time, French and Greek shops submit similar complaints to their national competition authorities.

 

The European Commission is informed of the proceedings in the different Member States. The European Commission would like to avoid national competition authorities reaching different outcomes in the assessment of the compatibility of Croketta’s network of agreements with competition law.

 

Question 1a

On what legal basis can the European Commission rely in order to claim jurisdiction over the case?

 

 

The European Commission obtains jurisdiction over the case and it opens formal investigations. The European Commission defines the product market as the market for the production of croquettes. This product market has a local geographic dimension. The average market share of Croketta in these relevant markets is 70-80% in the Netherlands, and 30-40% in France, Italy and Greece.

 

Question 1b

What would be the Commission’s assessment on the compatibility of the agreement with the EU competition law rules?

 

 

 

Question 2

Sabrina is a citizen of the United Kingdom who has worked as a prostitute in London for several years. After meeting her Spanish boyfriend, she decides to start an escort agency in Spain. However, prostitution is an illegal activity in Spain and therefore the Spanish Chamber of Commerce – which is part of the Spanish Ministry of Economic Affairs –rejects the registration of her agency in Madrid.

 

Question 2a

Explain which fundamental economic freedom Sabrina could invoke in order to have her agency registered in Spain by the Spanish Chamber of Commerce. Please note that you are not asked to discuss the compatibility of the Spanish rejection with this fundamental economic freedom

 

 

Even though she has been refused registration of her agency, Sabrina decides to open the doors of her facilities without permission. When the Spanish police finds out about this, the premises are entered. Luca, an Italian citizen and one of the clients, is arrested for taking part in illegal activities in Sabrina’s agency.

 

At the time of his arrest, Luca is applying for a job at the Chamber of Commerce in Madrid. The Chamber of Commerce does not want to hire Luca and is looking for grounds to reject his candidacy that are EU law proof. One ground that is considered is the public service exception, as the Chamber of Commerce forms part of the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

 

Question 2b

Discuss the possibility to reject Luca’s candidacy on the basis of the public service exception.

 

 

The Commission has sent a letter wherein it formally notified Spain about the Commission’s doubts regarding the compatibility of the Spanish prohibition. Subsequently, the Spanish Parliament, in which there is a progressive majority, considers to adopt a law that allows for the registration of escort agencies run by EU citizens, but only under the strict condition that all employees of the agency are over 21 years of age. It is argued by the progressive parties that the proposed law would not violate European law, since the condition that all employees of the agency should be over 21 years of age concerns a selling arrangement.

 

Question 2c

Discuss whether the argument of the progressive parties in the Spanish parliament is valid.

 

 

During a routine visit to the main hospital of Madrid, Sabrina finds out that the waiting lists for knee operations in Spain are much shorter than they are in the United Kingdom. Sabrina's mother, Erica, still lives in the United Kingdom. As Erica urgently needs a knee operation due to a car accident, she flies to Madrid and has the knee surgery there. When Erica asks for reimbursement of the costs of the operation, the National Health Service (NHS) refuses to reimburse Erica on the ground that she did not have prior authorization for the operation.

 

Question 2d

Discuss whether the system of prior authorization for medical treatment in a hospital in another Member State to be paid for by the NHS is compatible with European law.

 

 

 

Multiple choice vragen

 

Question 1

 

Croketta is a leading producer and distributor of snacks, in particular, French fries and potato croquettes in the Netherlands. After having received a complaint from a group of competitors of Croketta, who argued that Croketta has abused its dominant position, the Commission opens an investigation on a potential breach of Article 102 TFEU. The preliminary question that the Commission has to answer is how to define the product market.

 

Which of the following elements will be relied on by the Commission to define the product market?

 

 

A) Croquettes and French fries are sold within the same store.

B) Croquettes are sold in the Netherlands.

C) Interchangeability between French fries and croquettes.

D) Croquettes and French fries are sold under the same selling arrangements.

 

 

Question 2

 

Statement I -> Where a Directive aims at minimum harmonization and includes a free movement clause, the Member States are still free to lay down stricter rules for their own nationals.

 

Statement II -> If a specific subject has been totally harmonized, it is not necessary to assess the compatibility of a national measure with the TFEU.

 

Assess the abovementioned statements:

 

A) Both statement I and II are correct.

B) Statement I is correct. Statement II is incorrect.

C) Statement I is incorrect. Statement II is correct.

D) Both statement I and II are incorrect.

 

 

Question 3

 

Statement I-> If a measure fulfils the four conditions laid down in Altmark, it will

not constitute an advantage within the meaning of Article 107(1) TFEU. The measure will, therefore, not constitute State aid.

 

Statement II-> Due to the economic crisis many local shops in the municipality of

Utrecht are facing financial problems. Therefore, the municipality decides to grant a loan to these local shops. If a private investor would have entered into the transaction on the same conditions as the municipality of Utrecht, the measure will not constitute State aid within the meaning of Article 107(1) TFEU.

 

 

Assess the abovementioned statements:

 

A) Both statement I and II are correct.

B) Statement I is correct. Statement II is incorrect.

C) Statement I is incorrect. Statement II is correct.

D) Both statement I and II are incorrect.

 

 

Question 4

 

Tetra Pak is a company producing aseptic packages. Such aseptic packages are mainly used in the milk industry. The product market for aseptic packages is regarded to be different from other packages. Tetra Pak has a 20% market share in the EU. Eco-pack, a competitor of Tetra Pak, also produces aseptic packages. Eco-pack has a market share of 15% in the EU. Tetra Pak starts a hostile takeover and decides to buy all the shares of Eco-pack. Therefore, through this acquisition Tetra Pak would obtain a market share of 35% but, taking other factors into account, would not have a dominant position. Taking notice of the Merger Regulation, Tetra Pak first notifies the intention to takeover Eco-pack to the Commission.

 

Is there a possibility that the hostile takeover of Tetra Pak will be declared incompatible with the internal market?

 

A) No. Hostile takeovers and other acquisitions do not fall within the scope of the Merger Regulation.

B) No. Tetra Pak has not created a dominant position.

C) No. According to Article 4(1) of the Merger Regulation Tetra Pak has correctly notified the takeover to the Commission.

D) Yes. Tetra Pak might significantly impede effective competition after the hostile takeover.

 

Question 5

 

Which of the following statements is incorrect?

 

A) The Treaty of Lisbon has increased the power of the Council to decide by qualified majority voting.

B) The Treaty of Lisbon has abolished the principle of conferral for the European Union.

C) The Treaty of Lisbon has abolished the old pillar structure of the European Union.

D) The Treaty of Lisbon has introduced a catalogue of exclusive, shared and supporting competences.

 

 

 

 

 

Antwoorden open vragen

 

Antwoord vraag 1a

 

Art 102 TFEU. Abuse of dominance position. Het is verboden voor een bedrijf om zijn/haar dominante positie op de markt te misbruiken. Door het effect op ‘’the interstade trade’’ zou het beter zijn als de EC zich zou buigen over het probleem.

 

Antwoord vraag 1b

 

Art 102 TFEU, verbod op misbruik van dominantie positie moet worden bekeken in het licht van een aantal eisen. Het is namelijk verboden voor:

 

  1. Een of meerdere ondernemingen

  2. Die een dominantie positie heeft (hebben)

  3. Om deze positie te misbruiken

  4. Wanneer dit effect heeft voor de interstatelijke markt

 

Is er sprake van een Undertaking? (Entitity engaged in economic activity, providing goods or searches on the market: Höfner case): Ja, Croketta is een Nederlands bedrijf dat goederen aanbiedt op de markt, namelijk de aardappel producten. 

 

Om te bepalen of er sprake is van een ‘dominant position’ moet er gekeken worden naar wat de relevante markt is (Market definition). Daarvoor is belangrijk wat de product/services market is en wat de geographical market is. Voor de product market is het belangrijk om te kijken naar de interchangeability van de producten (Commision notice para 7). En naar de demand en supply side van de markt (Commission notice para. 15-22). De geographical market moet bestaan uit een regio waar er sprake is van ‘homegeneous conditions of competition ‘(United Brands).

 

De volgende vraag is dan of het een dominante positie op de markt heeft. In Nederland is er een marktaandeel van meer dan 50% en in de drie andere landen ligt dit onder de 40%. In Nederland moet er worden aangenomen dat er sprake is van een dominante positie, maar dat kan niet bij een market share van onder de 40% daar is het zelfs onwaarschijnlijk dat er sprake is van een dominante positie (Hoffman la Roche 39-41). Verder is het belangrijk om te kijken naar andere factoren genoemd in Hoffman para. 48. Een mogelijkheid is om de vertical integration aan te halen, het is namelijk een bedrijf dat van productie tot de werkelijke verkoop aan de eindconsument werkzaam is.

 

Als laatste moet er bepaald worden of sprake is van abuse. Er zijn een aantal mogelijkheden gegeven in het artikel zelf maar dat is niet limitative (para. 91 Hoffman).. Het is te beargumenteren dat dit onder 102 sub a TFEU valt. Het is een ‘exclusionary’ maatregel die er voor zorgt dat het lastig is om concurrent te worden.

Als laatste moet er dus een effect on the interstate trade zijn: die is aanwezig, het gaat over de handel tussen meerdere MSS.

 

Dit stappenplan is te vinden in de sheets van het hoorcollege van week 6 (22/23 Abuse of dominance) en is ook besproken in de werkgroep.

 

Antwoord vraag 2a

 

Sabrina zou de ‘freedom of establishment’ uit 49 TFEU kunnen inroepen. Hiervoor is nodig dat het een ‘Actual pursuit of an economic activity through a fixed establishment in another member state for an indefinite period.’(Viking Case p. 70)

 

 

Antwoord vraag 2b

 

De uitzondering staat in 45(4) TFEU. Om de uitzondering te kunnen inroepen moet er sprake zijn van ‘Involve direct or indirect excersise of the powers that are public law’ en ‘Duty designed to safeguard general interest of the state’ (Lawry case para. 27).

 

Luca heeft waarschijnlijk geen directe mogelijkheid om publiekrechtelijke taken uit te oefenen en wanneer dat wel het geval zou zijn gaat het niet om de general interest van de staat. Dat wordt niet makkelijk aangenomen ( Dit volgt uit de Lawry case)

 

Antwoord vraag 2c

 

Het is een ‘’measure that is indistinctly applicable’’, dus ‘Rule of Reason excpetions’ zijn mogelijk. Dan zijn de Gerbhard criteria toepasbaar (para. 37). There should be a legitimate aim, suitable and necessary

 

Antwoord vraag 2d

 

Deze vraag kan worden beantwoord aan de hand van de Watts case. Zie paragraaf 86-90 voor de ‘scope’ van art 56 (Medical services fall within the scope of the freedom to provide services. This also includes the freedom for a recipient of this medical service to go to another member state and receive medical treatment there. (par. 86 + 87)). Om te kijken of er sprake is van een restriction, zie paragraaf 94-98. Vervolgens kijk je of er een justification mogelijk is, zie hiervoor paragraaf 102 e.v.

 

Artikel 56 verbiedt het niet, ook al valt medical treatment eronder dat er sprake moet zijn van prior authorization. Die moet wel objectief gebeuren aan de hand van de medische conditie, geschiedenis, de waarschijnlijke oorzaak en de mate van pijn van de patiënt.

Antwoorden Multiple Choice vragen

 

Antwoord vraag 1

 

De elementen waarop de Commissie zich zal baseren om de product markt te omschrijven zullen de elementen uit C zijn.

 

Gebaseerd op het hoorcollege en werkgroep van week 6 (week 22/23 abuse of dominance). ‘A relevant product market comprises all this products and or services which are regarded interchangeable or subsitituable by the consumer by reason of the products characteristics their prices and their inter use’. Het gaat hier dus om de ‘interchangability’ (uitwisselbaarheid). Zie ook de Commission Notice paragraaf 7

 

 

Antwoord vraag 2

 

Het antwoord is A. Zie het hoorcollege van week 7 (week22/23 harmonisation, sheet 11)

 

Antwoord vraag 3

 

Bewering 1 klopt. Zie het arrest Altmark pt 87-93).

Bewering 2 klopt niet. Het valt onder state aid.

 

Het antwoord is B

 

Antwoord vraag 4

 

Het valt buiten de scope > Het antwoord is te vinden in hoofdstuk 29 van het boek, paragraaf 2. Een hostile takeover valt niet binnen de scope van de Merger Regulation.

 

Antwoord vraag 5

 

Het antwoord is C. Zie het hoorcollege van week 7 (week 22/23 harmonisation, sheet 6).

 

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