Roberto Vallina, Roca Junyent

Intel ruling and EC banking investigation will significantly impact on competition law – Roca Junyent

Ruling means exclusivity rebates will not always be considered an abuse of dominance, while banking enquiry means increasing focus on sophisticated financial products

The recent Intel ruling and the European Commission’s investigation into the banking sector have been among the most significant recent developments in the field of EU and competition, says Roberto Vallina, head of the EU and competition law department at Roca Junyent.
“The Intel case is a landmark ruling that will bring a significant change in the abuse of dominant position policy of the European Commission,” says Vallina. In 2017, in a ruling with far-reaching ramifications, the European Court of Justice set aside the General Court’s decision, which had upheld a €1.06 billion fine imposed on Intel by the European Commission for abuse of dominance. Following the decision, exclusivity rebates will not always be considered an abuse of dominance unless the conduct excluded competition from an equally efficient rival. “This case could result in a change in the evolution of the case law in years to come,” Vallina notes.
Vallina also highlights the launching of formal investigations, or sector enquiries – by the European Commission as well as national competition authorities – focusing on the banking industry, which remains very much a key focal point for antitrust enforcement efforts. “There will be a focus in competition law on sophisticated financial products in the coming years,” Vallina says. As such, firms must “strive to improve their knowledge of the financial sector”, he adds.  
In general, clients are increasingly demanding day-to-day competition law advice, Vallina observes. “Clients are requesting more and more advice on the spot – they want advice on a daily basis, by email or phone, on how to implement their antitrust policies and guidelines,” he explains. This advice must be tailored to the client, and at the same time be clear and concise – clients no longer accept overly-long and complex memos, Vallina says. He adds: “They need specific, customised advice, on a case-by-case basis.”