Competition Outlook 2022
Antitrust Developments in Europe and Germany
In this year’s Competition Outlook, Noerr’s Antitrust & Competition practice group has summarised the most important antitrust and competition, merger control and State aid developments in Europe and Germany in 2021 for you under the maxim “Learn from the past and plan for the future”.
We also take a close look at which developments companies should make sure they prepare for in 2022, especially against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our focus is on the key topics we expect to play a pivotal role in the above legal fields and in the area of investment controls.
Our outlook for 2022 shows that antitrust and competition law will not be left untouched by the major issues of the present and future. How will the ongoing pandemic continue to impact our new reality? What will green and digital transformation look like, how much regulation will be needed and what role will be played by the topic of sustainability? How is the new coalition government planning to promote “fair competition”?
Although we have not left the COVID-19 pandemic behind us yet, competition authorities can be expected to carry out even stricter and more frequent investigations, once again making companies’ compliance programmes a top priority. While merger control relief for failing companies is still not to be expected, at EU level changes can be expected in sales and distribution-related antitrust law due to the upcoming recasting of the Vertical Block Exemption Regulation and the implications of the crackdown on unfair practices in the Digital Markets Act. Besides this, despite and even because of the COVID-19 pandemic there are clear indications that the topic of State aid will move higher up the agenda. Likewise, the recent moves to tighten the legal framework mean that investment controls and the accompanying notification requirements will become increasingly significant.
Some of the issues covered in our review of the year 2021 include the classification of narrow best-price clauses by the German Federal Court of Justice under antitrust and competition law and their consequences in everyday practice, Google’s defeat in the dispute regarding Google Shopping, the increased risk of sanctions due to “gun-jumping”, the significance of the SIEC test in merger control, and the strengthening of cartel victims’ rights in cartel damages actions, including agreements on liquidated damages.