Tag Archive | "European Commission"

Source: CNBC

The Impact of the European Union on American Businesses: Google Fined for Antitrust Violations

Source: CNBC

Source: CNBC

In March, the European Commission fined Google LLC and its parent company, Alphabet Inc. (Google), €1.49 billion (which equals almost $1.7 billion) for abusive online advertising practices that broke the European Union’s (EU) antitrust rules.[1] Google’s practices prevented or limited its rivals from working with companies that were doing business with Google and shielded Google from competitive pressure. This is the third multi-billion dollar penalty the EU has recently laid on Google.[2]

Google’s as Online Search Advertising Brooker

When a consumer conducts a search through a search function that is embedded in another website, the website delivers search results as well as search adverts which appear alongside the search results. Google provides these search adverts through its program AdSense for Search (AdSense) and acts itself as intermediary between the advertisers and the website owners. For years, AdSense contracts gave Google a wide range of control over the adverts.[3]

European Commission

Source: European Commission

EU Antitrust Rules and the European Commission’s Decision

EU antitrust policy is developed from two central rules set out in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).[4] The first rule is article 101 TFEU which prohibits agreements between independent market operators that restrict competition. The second rule is article 102 TFEU which prohibits market participants that hold a dominant position on a given market to abuse that position. The European Commission is empowered to apply these rules and impose fines.[5] It has done so with its decision finding that Google has abused its market dominance by preventing rivals from competing in the online search advertising intermediation market.

Google Antitrust Threads in the US

Although one of the most significant characteristics of the new antitrust approach in the United States has been the increased focus on innovative companies in high-tech industries,[6] the most serious antitrust thread Google faced in the United States was an investigation without penalties conducted in 2013 by the Federal Trade Commission.[7]


The EU is one of the largest partners of the United States,[8] and it appears that the EU is increasingly setting standards that American companies must meet to remain competitive in the global marketplace: As a result of the fines by the European Commission, Google has changed how it does business.[9] Given the tendency of the EU to generally attribute a higher priority to protection of consumer rights and the minimization of free-market distortions resulting from monopolies or unfair trade practices, the increased impact of EU regulations may be welcomed by many consumers.

Julia Robert is the incoming Executive Editor  for the Denver Journal of International Law and Policy and a 2L at the University of Denver – Sturm College of Law.

[1]European Commission Press Release IP/19/1770, Antitrust: Commission fines Google €1.49 billion for abusive practices in online advertising (Mar. 3, 2019).

[2]European Commission Press Release IP/18/4581, Antitrust: Commission fines Google €4.34 billion for illegal practices regarding Android mobile devices to strengthen dominance of Google’s search engine (July 18, 2018); Commission Press Release IP/17/1784, Antitrust: Commission fines Google €2.42 billion for abusing dominance as search engine by giving illegal advantage to own comparison shopping service (June 27, 2017).

[3]For details, see European Commission Press Release IP/19/1770, supra note 1.

[4]Consolidated Version of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, Oct. 10, 2012, 2012 O.J. (C 326) 47 [hereinafter TFEU].

[5]TFEU, supra note 4 at art. 105.

[6]Geoffrey A. Manne & Joshua D. Wright, Google and the Limits of Antitrust: The Case Against the Case Against Google, 34 Harv. J. L. & Pub. Pol’y 171, 173 (2011).

[7]Federal Trade Commission, Press Release, Google Agrees to Change Its Business Practices to Resolve FTC Competition Concerns In the Markets for Devices Like Smart Phones, Games and Tablets, and in Online Search, https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2013/01/google-agrees-change-its-business-practices-resolve-ftc (Jan. 3, 2013).

[8]Countries and Regions, United States, European Commission, http://ec.europa.eu/trade/policy/countries-and-regions/countries/united-states/ (last updated Apr. 15, 2019).

[9]EU Fines Google $1.7 Billion Over ‘Abusive’ Online Ad Strategies, NPR(Mar. 20, 2019, 1:25 PM), https://www.npr.org/2019/03/20/705106450/eu-fines-google-1-7-billion-over-abusive-online-ad-strategies.

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Critical Analysis: Is it Economically Responsible for a Country to Host the Olympic Games?

The cost of hosting the Olympics. Is it a mistake or an opportunity to profit?
Photograph: Peter Muhly/AFP/Getty Images

Once athletes and tourists pack their bags and head home, Olympic host cities must determine how to move forward.  Although the Olympics bring great opportunity to a city and country, host cities often struggle to profit from such a wildly popular event.  Significant losses result when cities cannot put Olympic stadiums to use, new infrastructures negatively impacts other areas (i.e. traffic), and the boom of tourism drops. Oftentimes, host cities aim to avoid substantial loss and hope to simply break even.

Athens, Greece spent $15 billion hosting the 2004 Summer Olympic Games.  Athens reveled in its recognition as the smallest country in history to host the Olympic Games.  However, following the 2004 Games, Greece was the first European Union country to be placed under financial monitoring by the European Commission in 2005.  Furthermore, the Games are said to have contributed to Greece’s declaration of bankruptcy.   The state contributed a large portion of the funding to host the Olympics and spent a significant amount on permanent structures.  However, since 2004 the structures have fallen into disrepair and the new transportation infrastructure has created flooding and traffic problems.  Unfortunately, in the years following the Olympics, Greece realized it has failed to use the Games as a stepping stone into the future.

Beijing continues to experience the effects of hosting the 2008 Olympic Games.  Of the $42 billion dollars China spent on hosting the 2008 Games, $3 billion was dedicated to permanent stadiums.  Most venues have since been abandoned.  The city continues to lose money because it cannot secure long-term tenants in its Olympic stadiums.  In addition, the stadiums still in use suffer significant loses each year, even with the financial assistance from the public.

Although London intended to scale back its expenses for the 2012 Olympics by building dynamic and temporary structures, it still cost about $16 billion to host the Games, some of which included public funds.  Now, London must move quickly to avoid becoming the next Athens or Beijing.  Although efforts are moving rapidly thanks to large government and private contributions, London can only hope its regeneration efforts for the East End succeed, and sooner rather than later.

It remains to be seen how the much-anticipated 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil will impact the city and country.  Already protests have begun in Brazil in response to hosting not only the 2016 Olympics but also the 2014 World Cup.  At first, protests occurred in response to a fare hike on the public bus system, but now protests are in response to accusations of misappropriation of funds and a corrupt system.  If the government continues to sink money into fancy new structures but fails to use the opportunity to improve the city’s infrastructure, protests will continue.  Without the necessary infrastructure and a plan for the years following the sporting events, the long-term benefits to the Brazilian people will be lost and Brazil will be added to the growing list of countries incurring huge losses in the wake of world-renowned but short lived Olympic Games.

One can hope the future hosts of the Olympic Games will learn from the mistakes of previous host countries.  Cities need to focus not just on celebrating the event but also how to yield long-term profits from the opportunity.  The Olympics provide the chance for a country to build essential infrastructure, boost its economy, and gain global recognition.  More importantly, the Olympics have the potential to propel a country into the future.

Lindsey Weber is a 2L and the Projects Editor on the Denver Journal of International Law and Policy.

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The European Commission proposed an amendment to current insolvency laws which seeks to modernize the EU’s existing laws which have proven to be inadequate in the face of the recent economic recession. (Europa.eu)

Critical Analysis: Will an International Bankruptcy Reorganization Law be Viable?


The European Commission proposed an amendment to current insolvency laws which seeks to modernize the EU’s existing laws which have proven to be inadequate in the face of the recent economic recession. (Europa.eu)

The European Commission proposed an amendment to current insolvency laws which seeks to modernize the EU’s existing laws which have proven to be inadequate in the face of the recent economic recession. (Europa.eu)

On December 12, 2012, the European Commission proposed an amendment (Proposal) to Council Regulation (EC) No. 1346/2000 on insolvency proceedings adopted in 2002. The Proposal, (EC) No. 2012/0360, seeks to modernize the EU’s existing insolvency laws, which have proven to be inadequate in the face of the recent economic recession.

The current insolvency laws are largely directed toward the liquidation of a company’s assets rather than helping the struggling company repay its debts. According to Viviane Reding, the Vice President of the European Commission, the EU’s “current insolvency rules need updating to make it easier for viable businesses in financial difficulties to keep afloat rather than liquidating.” Another problem with the current insolvency laws is their lack of a workable jurisdictional standard. The EU’s insolvency law states that jurisdiction is proper in “the court of the member state where the debtor’s [center] of main interests is located.” However, the center of main interests standard has failed to provide clarity for courts, leading to a patchwork of different interpretations between the Member States. Further, the current insolvency laws do not require coordination between primary liquidation proceedings in one EU Member State with any secondary liquidation proceedings in another Member State.

The Proposal strives to modernize the existing law in order to “increase the efficiency and effectiveness of cross-border insolvency proceedings, affecting an estimated 50,000 companies across the EU every year.” The main thrust of the Proposal is “a shift in emphasis to promote pre-insolvency and rescue procedures.” Rather than focus on liquidation, the Proposal seeks to encompass pre-insolvency and hybrid proceedings designed to provide an alternative to liquidation as the primary form of relief. To provide greater clarity to the issue of whether jurisdiction is proper, the Proposal provides more detail on how to meet the insolvency law’s jurisdictional requirements by providing a new recital to Article 12(a). The Proposal also seeks to enhance coordination between Member States by simplifying the procedures for concurrent proceedings in different jurisdictions and by requiring a “standard notice of proceedings and a standard claim form for insolvency proceedings to be used by all Member States.”

The Proposal has been greeted with enthusiasm. Heralded as “a step in the right direction,” the Proposal seeks to create a business friendly environment by providing legal certainty, assistance to creditors, and a first step toward the EU becoming a business culture of “rescue and recovery” rather than one where bankruptcy is stigmatized. Practitioners are also happy that the Proposal increases a single court’s ability to administer a proceeding in which assets are located in separate countries rather than requiring the commencement of separate proceedings in each country where the assets are located.

However, the Proposal is not without its share of criticism. Many practitioners, who were hoping for a bright line definition for the center of main interests standard, have expressed skepticism over whether the Proposal’s modified language will actually increase clarity to the uncertainty regarding jurisdiction. Some practitioners fear that modifying the language of the current insolvency laws will seem appropriate in theory but cumbersome and unworkable in practice. Further, an Internet privacy watchdog has stated that “there [is] insufficient data protection safeguards built into proposed reforms to the EU’s insolvency law framework.” With the Proposal mandating communication between different Member States, the watchdog fears that the Proposal does not go far enough in delineating what type of security will protect sensitive information.

If implemented, the Proposal would continue a growing European trend to move away from its previous insolvency model and toward a system more familiar to business in the US. Before the Proposal will be enacted, however, it must still be considered and passed by both the EU Parliament and the Council of the EU.

Greg Henning is a 2L at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and a Staff Editor for the Denver Journal of International Law and Policy.

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A white mouse suffers from skin and eye irritation tests conducted in a research lab. (Care2.com)

Critical Analysis: International Movement to Ban Products Using Animal Research

A white mouse suffers from skin and eye irritation tests conducted in a research lab. (Care2.com)

A white mouse suffers from skin and eye irritation tests conducted in a research lab. (Care2.com)

It took 20 years of campaigning and several delays, but on March 11, 2013, the European Union law went in to effect to ban cosmetic products and their ingredients that use research on animals. The ban stipulates that no new products tested on animals will be imported in the EU. This ban will include products from skin cream and toothpaste to bleaches and air fresheners. The EU ban follows a similar import ban in Israel that went into effect in early January for toiletries, detergents, and cosmetics. These import bans mean that any company that uses animal testing for new cosmetics will no longer be able to sell those products in the EU or Israeli markets.

The EU cosmetic industry is estimated to be worth $91 billion per year. The import ban opens the question as to whether or not other countries will end up adopting the EU standard in order to compete in the market. India is one country that recently made some movement in response to the ban. In late February, Drug Controller General of India, Dr. GN Singh ordered animal testing for cosmetics to be indefinitely suspended. In addition, an elected representative, Baijayant Panda, is also urging India to follow the EU and Israel to set an example for cruelty-free products.

On the other hand, in China, the law mandates that manufacturers test products on animals before selling to consumers. This will put China at an economic disadvantage since they will not be able to sell those cosmetic items in Europe. However, the Chinese regulation also puts outside brands in a bind. If they wish to sell within China, it will require the companies to make exceptions to comply with the required animal testing. A company claiming to be cruelty-free but allowing Chinese regulators to test certain products on animals could tarnish a company’s image in the eyes of its consumers. For example, the Japanese cosmetic company Shiseido, responded to the EU ban by explaining that in April, it would only use animal testing in rare instances of safety concerns or for import to China.

The Humane Society describes some of the types of animal tests used for researching cosmetic chemicals include skin and eye irritation tests used on rabbits without pain relief, force-feeding tests to look for cancer or birth defects, and lethal dose tests that feed chemicals to animals to discover the dosage level that causes death. However, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine consider animal testing alternatives to be necessary because animal research is not effective and does not accurately predict the way the human body will react to chemicals it is given.

The European Commission has been researching alternatives since 1991 but formally established the European Union Reference Laboratory with the launch of the European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods in 2011 to work towards reducing and replacing animals for chemical, biological, and vaccination safety testing. Animal alternatives include human volunteers for clinical studies, synthetic human tissue, computer simulation programs, or in vitro cell cultures. From 2007 to 2011, the European Commission made 238 million euros available to fund the research of alternative methods.

Despite the progress made, some people disagree with this view that alternatives are the better choice. Scientist Jennifer Sass of the Natural Resources Defense Council believes the alternatives cannot address all of the safety issues present. For example, synthetic skin tests will not indicate detrimental effects to the immune system. Furthermore, some scientists still firmly believe animal testing can be useful for humans in areas such as genetics, stem cell research, and the development of antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals. One German lawmaker, Ms. Roth-Behrendt, also believes the EU ban for cosmetics still provides companies with a loophole. She theorizes that if the ingredients tested on animals for non-cosmetic purposes, such as pharmaceuticals, the cosmetics companies could potentially use them. In addition, ingredients tested on animals prior to the ban will remain on the shelves. The EU remains firm on the ban however in hopes that scientists and regulators will collaborate and create innovative alternative methods.

It will be interesting to see whether other countries such as the U.S., Canada, Russia, or Brazil will adopt the EU standard to ban animal testing with cosmetics or if more corporations will voluntarily react to the changed law like Shiseido. Groups like PETA will likely continue to work closely on advocating for change in China; especially as science and technology progresses, animal advocates will hope that in time the laws will reflect a more humane method of research and development. It is possible that this EU ban will push more movement toward banning animal testing, not just for cosmetics, but also in other areas of safety testing such as medicine and pharmaceuticals.

Kristen Pariser is a 2L and Staff Editor for the Denver Journal of International Law and Policy.

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Flags of the European Union

European integration – an overview of the European Union

Flags of the European Union

Flags of the European Union

This blog post is the first in a series of three where I will be exploring the forthcoming changes of the European Human Rights system. In this post I intend to give an overview of the European Union. The second blog post will focus on the European Convention on Human Rights. Both these posts will lay the foundation for the third blog post, where the EU’s accession to the European Convention of Human Rights will be discussed.

After the Second World War, the nations of Europe saw regional cooperation as a key for avoiding further wars. Out of the ashes of war two international organizations were set up; the Council of Europe and the European Coal and Steel Community. The former exists to this day, and is the parent organization of the European Court of Human Rights. The latter was the first building block of the European Union.

The layout of the Union

The European Union is, at its heart, an international organization. However, in contrast to traditional international organizations, which are generally a form of institutionalized inter-governmental cooperation, the European Union has a much larger autonomy.1 The EU has also been conferred considerable powers from the member states.

These powers are mainly exercised through the Unions’ four primary organs. The Commission is the Unions executive organ. It consists of 27 commissioners – one from each member state – sitting in their private capacity. The Commissions primary tasks is suggesting new legislation, enforcing legislation existing, and representing the EU externally.

One way of enforcing EU law is through the European Court of Justice (ECJ). As the supreme court of the EU it primarily handles two types of cases: Firstly, the so-called enforcement actions,2 which are brought by the Commission against a member state that it considers not to be fulfilling its obligations under EU law. Secondly, depending on the case, national court may either have a right, or be obliged, to ask the ECJ for its opinion on the relevant EU law. The Court then gives a preliminary ruling which will be binding upon the national court.3

The third body worth mentioning is the Council. It  consists of representatives from the member states, and has the final word on EU legislation and international agreements between the Union and non-member states. It also approves the budget and coordinate the economic, foreign and defense policies. Votes in the Council are weighed according to the size of the countries, and binding legislation may be passed without necessarily requiring unanimity. Even though the council resembles the main organs in other international organizations, it differs by being able to pass binding legislation upon member states without unanimous consent.

Finally we have the Parliament. It consists of several hundred members directly elected by nationals of the member states. It is supposed to provide democracy to the Union. However, few people care about, or even participate in, the European Parliament elections. In addition, there are no parties in the traditional sense, but rather coalitions of similar national parties. If one adds that the parliaments limited powers to the mix, one can easily see that the democratic alibi of the Union is lacking in accountability and effectiveness. However, since the Lisbon Treaty entered into force in 2009, the Parliaments powers when passing legislation has increased somewhat. While the legislative power in the end rests with the Council, the procedure today has a larger degree of cooperation built into it.

Legislation that stings

It is not just the layout of the organs that give the EU its’ supranational character. Much due to the the ECJ, which has followed a line of jurisprudence gradually extending the Union powers on behalf of the member states, EU law has become a powerful tool. Since the 1960s the ECJ has held that EU legislation has both direct effect in, and enjoy supremacy over, national law.4

This jurisprudence has in turn been accepted by virtually all national courts. Thus, implementing measures by individual member states are not necessarily needed for citizens to be able to rely on EU law before national courts. Since EU law may also be used to annul national legislation it has a sting to it that’s unmatched by other international organizations.

EU and human rights

Due to the broad scope of contemporary EU law, some of the legislative acts give rise to human rights concerns. Starting out as an economic union, human rights did not really have a place in EU law in the early years. Through the case-law of the ECJ, however, an EU concept of human rights evolved in the first couple of decades after the union was founded.5

When creating and interpreting the EU concept of human rights the ECJ was inspired by both national constitutional traditions and international conventions. Especially the European Convention of Human Rights was held in high regard. At the turn of the millennium the EU also proclaimed its own Charter of Fundamental Rights, which finally became legally binding through the Lisbon treaty in 2009.

But, as we shall see in my upcoming articles, the EU concept of Human Rights had its limits. Before we can investigate these limitations in detail a brief examination of the European Convention of Human Rights, and its system of enforcement, is necessary. That will be the subject of the next article.

Stian Øby Johansen is from Norway, and works as a Research Assistant at the Centre for European Law at the University of Oslo. He is currently writing his Master thesis on the European Union’s forthcoming accession to the European Convention on Human Rights.

  1. Trevor Hartley, The Foundations of European Union Law (7th edn, OUP 2010) 11
  2. TFEU art. 258
  3. Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) art. 267
  4. Case C‑26/62 Van Gend en Loos (1963); Case C‑6/64 Costa v ENEL (1964)
  5. See, among others: Case 29/69 Stauder v. City of Ulm (1969); Case 4/73 Nold v. Commission (1974)

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University of Denver Sturm College of Law