News & Views

Competition Law Nordic 2020

14 February 2020

“This event brings together in-house counsel from major multinational companies, regional competition authorities, and leading competition lawyers and economists to ensure that we have it covered from every angle.”

Hannes Snellman is proud to have been a supporting sponsor of Competition Law Nordic 2020, a conference held in Stockholm on 28–29 January 2020. The conference is a pan-Nordic competition law forum that brings together regulators, economists, in-house counsel, and private practice lawyers from the entire Nordic region. The key theme of this year’s conference was current competition law priorities and trends, such as competition law in digital markets and associated challenges, industrial policy vis-à-vis consumer welfare in relation to mergers, the adoption of interim measures, vertical restraints and compliance, and horizontal competitive risks, such as joint bidding, horizontal cooperation, and information exchange.

Two partners from our Helsinki office, Maria Wasastjerna and Mikko Huimala, both with extensive experience in competition law matters, chaired panel discussions during the first day of the conference. The theme of the first panel, chaired by Maria Wasastjerna, was “Competition Law in the Digital Era”.

The topic of competition law in digital markets has gained a particular amount of attention recently, not only amongst regulators and legal practitioners, but also in the mainstream media, in part due to highly publicised decisions by the European Commission against big American tech companies. Moreover, 2019 has been recognised as “the year of reports”, many of which concerned the issue of whether the digital economy presents new competition challenges and whether competition law needs to adapt in order to face these new challenges. The panel consisted of Erik Hellners, General Counsel at MTR Nordic, Karl Samuelsson, Senior Legal Counsel at Trustly, Andreas Reindl, Partner at Van Bael & Bellis, and Tero Louko, Senior Competition Counsel at Google. One of the main points of the panel discussion was a review of key competition law concerns within digital markets, and more specifically, whether these concerns constitute old problems in a different guise or entirely new issues. The panel discussion also included an overview of the most recent reports and their proposals to adapt competition law, insights into the SJ Online case and associated competition law issues arising from platforms, and a broad discussion regarding the interplay between competition law and data protection.

The theme of the second panel discussion, chaired by Mikko Huimala, was “Transitional Challenges Within Vertical Restraints and Distribution”. The topic is highly relevant, as the Vertical Block Exemption Regulation (the “VBER”) is currently under review and there has been a lot of discussion following the E-Commerce Sector Inquiry of the European Commission as to whether the VBER should be adjusted in light of online sale developments. The panel consisted of Tore Lunde, Professor at Bergen University, Sofia Englund, Deputy General Counsel at Xylem Inc., and Jacob Westin, Head of Legal in the Nordics and EUCAN Competition Law Specialist at Takeda Pharmaceuticals. The main points of the panel discussion included key updates from the Vertical Block Exemption Review consultations, a discussion on how Nordic enforcement activity compares to that of other member states and the Commission, challenges relating to e-commerce and geo-blocking, most favoured nation clauses, and key insights from in-house counsel on the challenges of managing and staying compliant with vertical restraints and the distribution framework.

In addition to the two panels chaired by representatives from Hannes Snellman, the conference covered a broad range of interesting and relevant topics within competition law, such as discussions on merger control in the Nordic countries and what to expect from the guidelines on horizontal agreements that are currently under review. All in all, Competition Law Nordic 2020 brought together 120 leading competition law experts from the Nordic countries to discuss current case law and policy developments. It is the only truly pan-Nordic forum of its kind, and the conference provided a broad perspective and insight into competition law trends and developments in the Nordic region.

For the full programme and more information regarding the speakers and topics at the conference, see: