Currently, the European Commission ("Commission") conducts consultation processes regarding (i) the field of unfair trading practices in the B2B supply chain, (ii) the first draft of the new de minimis regulation in State aid, (iii) technology transfer agreements and (iv) the amendment of simplified procedures under the EU Merger Regulation.

Green Paper on unfair trading practices in the business-to-business chain in Europe
The Commission published a Green Paper on unfair trading practices in the business-to-business food and non-food supply chain in Europe earlier this year and released it for consultation. The objective of the Green Paper is to launch a consultation of stakeholders and to identify the next possible steps in addressing the problem of unfair trading practices in business-to-business relationships along the supply chain of retail trade.

Revised de minimis Regulation in State aid
In the planned modernization of the de minimis Regulation in State aid, the Commission intends to hold the ceiling of EUR 200 000 per undertaking granted over any period of three fiscal years. It will expire on 31 December 2013 and will therefore be reviewed. Due to a relevant input from stakeholders, the draft shall provide a simplification and clarification of the rules, so the overhead for de minimis aid should fall. Examples of the changes include:

  • The creation of a safe-harbour provision for loans below EUR 1 million with a duration of up to five years for which no calculation of the gross grant equivalent on the basis of the applicable reference rate is necessary.
  • The definition of “firms in difficulty” — which have to remain excluded from the scope of application of the de minimis Regulation — only on criteria that are easy to assess.
  • In line with the specific de minimis Regulation for providers of services of general economic interest (SGEI) adopted in 2012, the specific, lower ceiling for road passenger transport has been deleted as this sector is no longer dominated by small undertakings.

Technology transfer agreements
The Commission prepared a proposal for the revised technology transfer block exemption regulation, which gives a licensor the right to allow a licensee to use patents, know-how or software for the production of goods or other services. The proposal aims to update the current rules in order to increase incentives for research and innovation, to facilitate the dissemination of intellectual property and to stimulate competition.

Simplified procedures under the EU Merger Regulation
The Commission would like to simplify certain procedures for the notification of concentrations under the EU Merger Regulation. The proposal aims to make the EU merger control easier by cutting administrative burdens and by streamlining procedures. This initiative is part of the Commission's overall strategy to make administrative procedures less burdensome for businesses.

In particular, the Commission proposes to update the simplified procedure for certain concentrations. It therefore plans to extend certain cases, in which undertakings can use a short form for given categories of transactions, which usually do not have an anti-competitive effect, by increasing the market share thresholds. The Commission may approve such transactions without a comprehensive market analysis. At the same time, the regular forms and their required data and information are being aligned with the Commission’s current practices.