There is no economic sector that does not have to comply with EU law today. A large part of the national legal framework is initiated by the European legislator, directly prescribed or influenced by decisions of the ECJ. This applies to the areas of media, electronic communication and information technologies. For them, the harmonization and modernization of the legal framework is particularly relevant due to the ongoing digitization and the use of AI in order to ensure a functioning internal market and equip the European economy to face global competition.
Therefore, the main issues affected are the regulation of electronic communications, copyright and copyright protection law, data protection law, eCommerce regulations, the liability of providers and platform operators or the regulation of (cross-border) audio-visual media offerings. European antitrust and state aid law also has fundamental implications for the (cross-border) competition of media, sports or ITC companies within but also outside the European Union.
The European Commission (EU-COM) plays a central role in the European legislative process: as an independent political executive, it develops proposals for European legislation. These may include draft directives or regulations, which are then submitted to the Council of the European Union (Council) and the European Parliament (EP).
In the ordinary legislative procedure (formerly “co-decision” as the most common procedure; concerns all acts where qualified majority voting is used in the Council), the EP plays an important role, since without its consent the act in question cannot enter into force. This also applies to the consent procedure, but only in the ordinary legislative procedure EP has the right to adopt formal proposals for amendments. Together with the EP, the Council is the main decision-making body of the EU, with which it coordinates and jointly adopts relevant legal acts.
EU legislative procedures are not always completely transparent and can sometimes take a long time. The opportunities for exchange and dialogue can – depending on individual stages of the procedure – vary. Work in the working groups and ministerial meetings of the Council or in the informal trialogue (negotiations between the EP, Council and EU-COM) is especially difficult to follow. In this respect, it is necessary to be close to the action, to act early and to keep a close eye on the progress of the procedures. This requires proactive lobbying as well as a good knowledge of the types of legislative procedures and stages at the European level.
EU-COM is not only the initiating body for legislative initiatives. It also monitors the application and implementation of Community law and is authorized to initiate infringement proceedings against individual Member States in the event of infringements. As a European competition authority, the EU-COM has practical relevance for companies. In addition to the national competition authorities, it is mainly responsible for the proper application of competition rules and has extensive monitoring and enforcement powers. These include the prohibition of agreements restricting competition (Article 101 TFEU), the prohibition of abuse of a dominant position (Article 102 TFEU), merger control proceedings (in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 139/2004) and the prohibition of state aid (Article 107 TFEU).
The case law of the European Court of Justice increasingly influences the national application of law. This applies both to the decisions of the ECJ in so-called infringement proceedings (Art. 258 TFEU), which the Member State concerned must comply with, and to preliminary ruling proceedings (Art. 267 TFEU), which can have direct consequences for economic operators, as the recent "Schrems II" case in data protection has shown.
Legal advice includes all aspects of EU-law. However, we also develop solutions or expert opinions on specific questions of the applicability of European primary law as well as on the interpretation and implementation of European secondary law (in the form of directives, regulations or decisions). This advice also includes dealing with ECJ rulings that have direct legal consequences for your company.
In addition, we represent your interests in antitrust law proceedings as well as in state aid proceedings before the EU-COM and, if necessary, enforce them in court before the Court of Justice of the European Union.
Based on our proven expertise in European Union law, we analyze relevant draft legislation for you, follow the relevant legislative procedures on your behalf, act as an early warning system or support you in the strategic positioning of your company vis-à-vis the relevant decision-makers in the European institutions.
Clients come from different branches of industry. They include globally operating platform operators, DAX-listed companies in the telecommunications and media sector, medium-sized companies in the advertising industry, content aggregators or trade associations who rely on our expertise in EU law or whose interests we enforce. For example, we represent a motor sports association in extensive state aid proceedings before the ECJ. We also represent the interests of a large advertising company within a preliminary ruling procedure at the ECJ to clarify fundamental legal issues in the field of e-mail marketing.