Competition Authority confirms notification of Administrative Court proceedings

​The Competition Authority (CA) reports that it has been notified by the Lisbon Circuit Administrative Court to respond to proceedings lodged by Automóvel Club de Portugal (ACP).

In this action, the ACP claims that it requested the CA to open an investigation into the facts relating to the launch by Galp, in September 2010, of a new fuel station in Setúbal for the sale of petroleum and diesel fuel, under the brand name Galp Base.

Without questioning ACP’s use of the legal means at its disposal to claim the rights that it deems belong to it, the CA considers that the facts reported to it by ACP do not constitute evidence of a breach of the competition rules. Accordingly, it ruled that it did not need to open an investigation, a position that it will defend in the appropriate place.

The CA also reports that, on this matter, the European Commission has recently issued an opinion in the same vein: it considered that there is no reason to carry out any enquiries or set up an investigation related to the liquid fuel market in Portugal.

The European Commission informed the CA of its interpretation that the information provided to it by ACP does not satisfy the legal requirements to be considered a complaint and that the argument put forward by ACP, that competition is not being developed on the Portuguese liquid fuel market, is not supported by the fact – recognized by ACP itself – that the market share of supermarket fuel stations has increased significantly in the last three years.

According to the European Commission, the Galp Base fuel station itself is proof of a more competitive market, in that it appears a reaction by the incumbent to the success of supermarket fuel stations.

The European Commission has informed the CA that it forwarded this interpretation to ACP in a letter of 19 October 2010, which ACP is certainly in a position to release.

Lisbon, 24 February 2011