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Business Articles Awards > Dominance

The Greek Lignite Case

Peter Alexiadis and Ilias Georgiopoulos, Gibson Dunn Publications, October 2014

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On 17 July 2014, the European Court of Justice (the ECJ) affirmed the conventional wisdom that the European Commission (the Commission) has sweeping powers under article 106 of the treaty on the functioning of the EU (TFEU) in dealing with ex-state monopolies or firms upon which the state has conferred “special or exclusive rights”. While the treaty is in principle agnostic on the issue of whether member states can maintain state-owned undertakings, or indeed grant special or exclusive rights, it has in the past used the hybrid provision of article 106 as the basis upon which to attack a firm indirectly by effectively challenging the legitimacy of the member state measures which have conferred the problematic benefit upon it. In doing so, it has relied on the logic of article 102 TFEU, which prohibits the abuse of a dominant position. The scope of the European Commission’s powers had been considered to have been significantly restricted when the General Court overturned the Commission’s original Greek Lignite decision

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