The EU General Court upholds the Commission’s decision to block a joint venture between two steel producers on the grounds that the Commission must be shown a degree of deference when making its significant impediment of effective competition assessment (ThyssenKrupp / Tata Steel)

On 22 June 2022, the GC upheld in full the Commission’s 2019 decision to block a joint venture between ThyssenKrupp and Tata Steel (“the JV”). This was the first appeal of a merger prohibition since the GC overturned the Commission’s prohibition of CK Hutchison’s proposed acquisition of O2 UK in 2020 (see VBB on Competition, Volume 2020, No. 6), which is now on appeal to the ECJ. In that case, the Commission had failed to meet its burden of demonstrating that the acquisition would result in a significant impediment to effective competition (“SIEC”) to the requisite standard, so all eyes were on whether the GC would find that the Commission had succeeded in doing so this time. Background The Commission had blocked the deal due to concerns that the JV could reduce the number of steel

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