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EU competition watchdogs face higher interest payments – Economy

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That could be very expensive: American chipmaker Intel is seeking interest from the EU Commission on a competition penalty imposed on the company by Brussels authorities in 2009. Because in January Raised by the Court of Justice of the European Union The fine is 1.06 billion euros, because the Commission did not properly prove the anti-competitive behavior. At the end of February, the authority returned the amount, but the Americans Charge interest on itBetween 2009 and 2022 the EU had over a billion euros in unentitled funds. According to Intel’s calculations, this adds up to 593 million euros.

The Commission rejects this but relies on Group One Judgment of the European Court In 2021, the judges awarded Spanish envelope maker Printeos interest on such a repaid fine – at an interest rate said to be 3.5 percentage points above the European Central Bank’s current base rate. For the EU budget, this ruling and the exorbitant interest rates are dangerous. After all, the commission’s competition watchdog has repeatedly imposed high fines, only to withdraw them after companies appealed to the courts – years later. There is a lot of interest.

Only in June The EU court rejected it Almost a billion euro fine against US chipmaker Qualcomm from 2018. Two years ago, judges ruled that Apple should not be allowed at the request of Brussels authorities. A good 13 billion euros in taxes Had to pay back in Ireland. Margrethe Vestager, vice-president of the responsible commission, went to the next court event.

Deutsche Telekom also wants to benefit from the interest rate ruling, although the amounts here are smaller. Four years ago, the EU Court reduced the competition penalty against Bonn by twelve million euros and the Commission immediately returned the amount. However, telecom also needs interest – in retrospect The judges ruled in JanuaryThe authority actually had to hand over €1.8 million in interest. However, the commission appealed against it in March.

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The demands “really hurt,” the deputy says

In a letter to Vestager, CSU MEP Markus Ferber, economic policy spokesman for the Christian Democratic EPP group, wants to know how Dane will manage the risk of interest payments. In her reply letter, which Süddeutsche Zeitung Available, the liberal politician explains, she “doesn’t see it as fair to demand Intel’s interest”. Just because the judges overturned the 2009 fine doesn’t mean the commission has defaulted since then, they argue.

Meanwhile, Vestager points out in the two-page letter that there are two other cases where antitrust fines in the triple-digit millions have been avoided and corporations are now being asked to pay interest. It is about Dienst, a French pharmaceutical company that was shut down in 2014 331 million euro fine and the competition watchdog airline British Airways in 2010 A good 100 million euros Roared.

Ferber complains that Vestager’s competition watchdogs are “consistently losing top-class competition cases”, which is “not only embarrassing, but slowly becoming a budgetary risk, because reimbursement claims in the three-digit million range really hurt”.

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