European Commission - Press release
Antitrust: Commission market tests commitments proposed by Siemens and Areva concerning nuclear technology markets
Brussels, 14 March 2012 - The European Commission is inviting comments from interested parties on the commitments offered by Siemens and Areva to meet concerns that they may have infringed EU antitrust rules. The Commission has concerns that a non-compete obligation covering a number of nuclear technology markets agreed by Siemens and Areva may be in breach of rules that prohibit anti-competitive agreements (Article 101 of the TFEU). Siemens and Areva have proposed to reduce both the product scope and the duration of the non-compete obligation. If the market test confirms that the proposed commitments remedy the competition concerns, the Commission may adopt a decision under Article 9 of Regulation 1/2003, making the commitments legally binding on Siemens and Areva.
In 2001, Areva and Siemens created the joint venture Areva NP and agreed on a non-compete obligation. The obligation was meant to apply beyond the duration of the joint venture itself. In 2009, Areva acquired sole control of Areva NP.
Concerning the markets for Areva NP's core products and services, the Commission concluded in its preliminary assessment that the non-compete clause is excessive because it prevents competition by Siemens for a period exceeding three years following Areva's acquisition of sole control over Areva NP. Markets for Areva NP's core products and services include nuclear islands, nuclear services and nuclear fuel assemblies.
The Commission's preliminary assessment also focused on markets for Areva NP's non-core products and services. These are markets where, during the lifetime of the joint venture, Areva NP was not active with its own products or accepted sales by Siemens. Here the Commission concluded that the non-compete obligation in its entirety breaches EU antitrust rules insofar as it applies after Siemens' exit from the joint venture. These markets include in particular conventional islands and certain components for nuclear islands.
To address these concerns, Siemens and Areva committed to reduce both the product scope and the duration of the non-compete obligation. The companies offered to limit the non-compete obligation for all Areva NP core products and services to a period of three years after Siemens' exit from the joint venture, and to remove it completely for non-core products and services. The same commitments apply for the confidentiality clause agreed between the two parties insofar as it has the same effects as the non-compete obligation.
The Commission opened proceedings in May 2010 (see IP/10/655) and informed Siemens and Areva in December 2011 that the non-compete obligation may violate EU antitrust rules.
The original non-compete obligation, agreed at the creation of the joint venture Areva NP in 2001, was supposed to apply not only for the lifetime of the joint venture but also up to 11 years after Siemens' exit from the joint venture. After Siemens' announcement in the beginning of 2009 to leave the joint venture, an arbitration court in April 2011 reduced the duration of the non-compete obligation to approximately four years for all products originally covered by the clause.
A summary of the commitments proposed by Siemens and Areva has been published in the EU Official Journal. The full non-confidential version of the commitments is available on the Commission's website. Interested parties can submit comments within one month from the date of publication.
If the market test confirms that the proposed commitments remedy the competition concerns, the Commission may adopt a decision under Article 9 of Regulation 1/2003, making the commitments legally binding on Siemens and Areva.