European Commission gives go-ahead to purchase of O2 Ireland by Hutchinson 3G

The merger of the second- and fourth-largest mobile network operators in Ireland will now go ahead after the European Commission approved the acquisition of Telefónica Ireland (O2 Ireland) by Hutchinson 3G (H3G).

The merged entity will face only two competitors – Vodafone and Eircom.

While the commission had initial concerns that the merger could result in a significant reduction in competition in both retail and wholesale markets in Ireland, potentially leading to higher prices for consumers, those concerns were addressed by commitments given by H3G.

The commitments ensured that new competitors will enter the mobile telecommunications market in Ireland and that spectrum will be released from January 1st, 2016.

DAA case

In a significant judgment on the implementation of EU procurement law in Ireland, the High Court, on May 30th, refused to lift the automatic suspension on an award of a contract by Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) for the provision of site services at Dublin Airport.

The court held that lifting the automatic suspension would be contrary to the overall scheme contemplated by procurement law in the European Union.

After failing to secure the contract, OCS had initiated proceedings challenging the DAA’s contract award decision.

The DAA brought an application to lift the automatic suspension on the basis that OCS had failed to provide an undertaking as to damages arising from the suspension.

Mr Justice Max Barrett held that the appropriate test in determining whether to lift the automatic suspension was not the established test for injunctive relief as set out by the Supreme Court in Campus Oils vs Minister for Industry and Commerce and instead, he applied the test contained in the applicable Irish regulations.

The court concluded that the DAA had not satisfied the burden of proof to lift the suspension.

Mr Justice Barrett noted that a number of negative consequences, for which damages would not be an adequate remedy, would result from a lifting of the suspension before the hearing of the substantive matter, namely the risk of redundancy and loss of expertise and competitiveness.

He concluded that the public interest lay in a fair and transparent procurement process. The judgment is under appeal to the Supreme Court.

Irish map

Finally, the European Commission has approved the Irish map for granting regional investment aid for 2014- 2020.

In June 2013 the commission adopted new regional state aid guidelines under which member states can grant state aid to businesses for regional development purposes.

The new regional map represents 51.28 per cent of the Irish population and areas eligible for regional state aid include the midlands, southeast, Border, midwest, west and parts of the midwest and southwest regions.

The maximum level of aid that can be approved to large regional enterprises is 10 per cent of total investment costs, with an increase of 10 per cent for medium-sized enterprises and 20 per cent for small enterprises.



This article by Joanne Finn and Úna Glazier- Farmercommittee members of the Irish Society for European Law, was published in the Irish Times on 30 June 2014.

© 2014  – Click here to view this article on the Irish Times website