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Competition & European Union

Competition and regulatory authorities now possess far-reaching powers to investigate companies and commercial arrangements, prohibit M&A deals, force divestment of merged businesses, review markets and impose penalties or the recovery of illegal aids. There is the additional risk of private enforcement such as substantial (follow-on) antitrust damages claims. Being compliant and implementing effective risk mitigation strategies is key. We focus not only on problem solving but also on how you can avoid problems in the first place. Our large team of competition lawyers has extensive experience in helping navigate these difficult paths so that you can focus on your business. We have in-depth knowledge of competition rules across different countries and markets.

We act for public and private clients in the following areas among others: competition law (abuses of dominant position, cartels, mergers), state aid, EU Litigation, Liberalisation (Energy, transports, Handling, Telecommunications and Utilities), EU Freedoms, Contracts with the European Institutions and European structural funds.

Our team has unrivalled experience, at both European & national level, in these challenging practice areas through regular notifications or complaints to the European Commission or the Belgian Competition Authority or through litigation before the European Courts.

We have advised clients from a wide variety of sectors on regulatory and competition issues, including:

  • Public authorities and public companies
  • Airports and airlines
  • Retail
  • Banks and financial institutions
  • Utility companies (electricity, gas, water)
  • Chemicals and pharmaceuticals
  • Telecommunications
  • Logistics and transports
  • Aerospace
  • European and national associations of undertakings

The CMS Competition Group is one of the largest competition teams in Europe and at the same time one of the most widespread. We offer a one-stop-shop solution to clients for all their competition law needs across Europe and beyond. Our sector approach helps us understand your business environment and get to grips with your issues.

"The lawyers are top-notch when it comes to discussing details about the case," says one interviewee, noting: "It is clear they work hand in hand with the junior staff. It is a good experience to speak with high-level partners who make you feel that they really know the case."

Feedback from a client about the department - Chambers Europe, 2022

"CMS has a well-regarded domestic competition law practice in Belgium, with proven experience acting on the complainant and defendant sides of behavioural investigations carried out by the BCA. It is known for its work on behalf of major Belgian telecommunications clients, winning roles on merger filings and on appeals against BCA decisions. Key lawyers offer considerable experience in matters relating to state aid, often acting for aviation sector clients or for public sector entities."

Chambers Europe, 2022

"able to really get to a good level of understanding of our sector"

Feedback from a client about the department - Chambers Europe, 2021

"work very well to very strict deadlines"

Feedback from a client about the department - Chambers Europe, 2021

"CMS' team is experienced in handling the full range of transactional and behavioural work, and has notable expertise in issues concerning the pharmaceutical, aviation and electronic communications sectors. State aid work is one of the many strong suits of the practice; Annabelle Lepièce is representing the Belgian state in various state aid investigations and proceedings, and related tax matters. Illustrative of her broad practice, she also represented Medi-Market in its complaint before the BCA over alleged competition infringements by the Belgian Order of pharmacists. Dirk Van Liedekerke has expertise in the interplay between EU/Belgian competition law and telecoms law."

Legal 500, 2021

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State Aid
What is State aid?State aid is a highly technical area of EU law and has generated a wide range of evolving case law. Compliance with State aid rules
06/09/2017
European & Com­pet­i­tion Law
Our team is led by An­na­belle Lepièce and Dirk Van Liedekerke. Ro­main Alder­weireldt, Joëlle Froid­mont, Alex­is Laes, Hanne Baey­ens, Raphaël Fleis­cher, Mat­thieu van Lierde, Kim Gil­lade and Mar­guer­ite...
25/07/2019
CMS Com­pet­i­tion & EU Glob­al Bro­chure
The CMS Com­pet­i­tion & EU Group is one of the largest com­pet­i­tion teams in Europe and of­fers you the most wide­spread pan-European cov­er­age. With more than 225 com­pet­i­tion law­yers based in 35 coun­tries...

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12/05/2022
Ab­use of eco­nom­ic de­pend­ency in Bel­gi­um – cur­rent state of af­fairs
The pro­hib­i­tion on ab­us­ing an un­der­tak­ing’s eco­nom­ic de­pend­ency, which came in­to force on 22 Au­gust 2020, tar­gets a situ­ation where an un­der­tak­ing ab­uses the eco­nom­ic­ally de­pend­ent po­s­i­tion of an­oth­er...
12/05/2022
10 key as­pects of the re­vised EU com­pet­i­tion law in the field of dis­tri­bu­tion...
The new Ver­tic­al Block Ex­emp­tion Reg­u­la­tion (VBER) and the new ac­com­pa­ny­ing Ver­tic­al Guidelines (VGL) were pub­lished on 10 May 2022. The new VBER will enter in­to force on 1 June 2022 and ap­ply for the...
11/05/2022
The Gen­er­al Court of the EU con­firms the leg­al­ity of the res­cue aid to...
On 4 May 2022, the Gen­er­al Court of the EU con­firmed the leg­al­ity of the Com­mis­sion's de­cision ap­prov­ing res­cue aid of 36.66 mil­lion EUR from Ro­mania to the air­line TAR­OM. It found that the aid was in­deed...
01/04/2022
The Bel­gian Com­pet­i­tion Au­thor­ity ap­proves con­di­tion­ally the ac­quis­i­tion...
On 29 March 2022, the Bel­gian Com­pet­i­tion Au­thor­ity ap­proved un­der con­di­tions the ac­quis­i­tion by groups DPG Me­dia NV and Ros­sel & Cie of joint con­trol RTL Bel­gi­um SA, Au­di­opresse SA, New Con­tact SA, Ra­dio...
29/03/2022
Ap­plic­a­tion of State aid law to tax meas­ures: 2021 re­view and 2022 out­look
By sev­er­al rul­ings is­sued in 2021, the Court of justice of the EU (CJEU) has spe­cified its case-law on the veri­fic­a­tion of two re­quire­ments for tax meas­ures to fall with­in the scope of State aid: the...
21/03/2022
Nov­el­ties in Bel­gian com­pet­i­tion law
By Law of 28 Feb­ru­ary 2022, the Bel­gian le­gis­lat­or has trans­posed the ECN+ Dir­ect­ive that seeks to strengthen na­tion­al com­pet­i­tion au­thor­it­ies. Aside from oth­er sub­stant­ive changes to the Bel­gian com­pet­i­tion...
24/02/2022
Pro­pos­al for EU Data Act ad­op­ted – Com­mis­sion Aims at Boost­ing Europe’s...
Fol­low­ing con­sulta­tion and in­tens­ive in­tern­al dis­cus­sions in 2021, the European Com­mis­sion on 23 Feb­ru­ary re­leased its pro­pos­al for a “Data Act”. If ad­op­ted by EU law­makers, this reg­u­la­tion will in­tro­duce...
24/02/2022
The European Com­mis­sion has en­dorsed its new Cli­mate, En­ergy and En­vir­on­ment­al...
The European Com­mis­sion’s re­vised Guidelines on state aid for cli­mate, en­vir­on­ment­al pro­tec­tion and en­ergy (« CEEAG ») have been en­dorsed on 27 Janu­ary 2022. The CEEAG re­place the Guidelines on...
16/02/2022
Re­new­al of the Bel­gian Com­pet­i­tion Au­thor­ity’s Pro­sec­utor Gen­er­al and as­sessors
The Bel­gian Com­pet­i­tion Au­thor­ity com­prises of the In­vest­ig­a­tion and Pro­sec­u­tion Ser­vice, in charge of cases settled and sim­pli­fied mer­ger con­trol de­cisions, and the Com­pet­i­tion Col­lege, a de­cision-mak­ing...
24/03/2022
Ex­change of con­fid­en­tial in­form­a­tion between com­pet­it­ors – do’s and don’ts
Ex­changes of stra­tegic in­form­a­tion between com­pet­it­ors are in prin­ciple pro­hib­ited un­der com­pet­i­tion law and can lead to heavy fines. In some cases, the ex­change of such in­form­a­tion may im­prove eco­nom­ic...
26/01/2022
Res­ults of IoT Sec­tor In­quiry out: Com­mis­sion con­firms con­cerns, con­siders...
1. In­tro­duc­tion On 20 Janu­ary 2022, the European Com­mis­sion pub­lished its Fi­nal Re­port on the con­sumer In­ter­net of Things (the “IoT”) Sec­tor In­quiry, which it launched in 2020 (see press re­lease...
18/01/2022
Bel­gian Com­pet­i­tion Au­thor­ity clears Port of An­t­werp and Port of Zeebrugge...
On 7 Janu­ary 2022, the Bel­gian Com­pet­i­tion Au­thor­ity ap­proved the mer­ger of the Port of An­t­werp and the Port of Zeebrugge, now be­com­ing the uni­fied Port of An­t­werp-Bruges. On 4 Novem­ber 2021, the Port...