ISSN 1977-091X

Official Journal

of the European Union

C 438

European flag  

English edition

Information and Notices

Volume 61
5 December 2018


Contents

page

 

IV   Notices

 

NOTICES FROM EUROPEAN UNION INSTITUTIONS, BODIES, OFFICES AND AGENCIES

 

European Commission

2018/C 438/01

Euro exchange rates

1

2018/C 438/02

Commission Implementing Decision of 28 November 2018 on the publication in the Official Journal of the European Union of the single document referred to in Article 94(1)(d) of Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council and of the reference to the publication of the product specification for a name in the wine sector (Cebreros (PDO))

2


 

V   Announcements

 

PROCEDURES RELATING TO THE IMPLEMENTATION OF COMPETITION POLICY

 

European Commission

2018/C 438/03

Communication from the Commission published pursuant to Article 27(4) of Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2003 in Case AT.39398 — Visa MIF

8

2018/C 438/04

Communication from the Commission published pursuant to Article 27(4) of Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2003 in Case AT.40049 — Mastercard II

11


EN

 


IV Notices

NOTICES FROM EUROPEAN UNION INSTITUTIONS, BODIES, OFFICES AND AGENCIES

European Commission

5.12.2018   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 438/1


Euro exchange rates (1)

4 December 2018

(2018/C 438/01)

1 euro =


 

Currency

Exchange rate

USD

US dollar

1,1409

JPY

Japanese yen

128,68

DKK

Danish krone

7,4626

GBP

Pound sterling

0,89058

SEK

Swedish krona

10,2293

CHF

Swiss franc

1,1348

ISK

Iceland króna

139,60

NOK

Norwegian krone

9,6473

BGN

Bulgarian lev

1,9558

CZK

Czech koruna

25,901

HUF

Hungarian forint

323,20

PLN

Polish zloty

4,2823

RON

Romanian leu

4,6514

TRY

Turkish lira

6,1035

AUD

Australian dollar

1,5451

CAD

Canadian dollar

1,5031

HKD

Hong Kong dollar

8,9071

NZD

New Zealand dollar

1,6406

SGD

Singapore dollar

1,5550

KRW

South Korean won

1 261,04

ZAR

South African rand

15,5292

CNY

Chinese yuan renminbi

7,7986

HRK

Croatian kuna

7,4015

IDR

Indonesian rupiah

16 303,46

MYR

Malaysian ringgit

4,7319

PHP

Philippine peso

60,035

RUB

Russian rouble

75,7901

THB

Thai baht

37,273

BRL

Brazilian real

4,3642

MXN

Mexican peso

23,2057

INR

Indian rupee

80,4720


(1)  Source: reference exchange rate published by the ECB.


5.12.2018   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 438/2


COMMISSION IMPLEMENTING DECISION

of 28 November 2018

on the publication in the Official Journal of the European Union of the single document referred to in Article 94(1)(d) of Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council and of the reference to the publication of the product specification for a name in the wine sector

(Cebreros (PDO))

(2018/C 438/02)

THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION,

Having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

Having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 establishing a common organisation of the markets in agricultural products and repealing Council Regulations (EEC) No 922/72, (EEC) No 234/79, (EC) No 1037/2001 and (EC) No 1234/2007 (1), and in particular Article 97(3) thereof,

Whereas:

(1)

Spain has sent an application for protection of the name ‘Cebreros’ in accordance with Section 2 of Chapter I of Title II of Part II of Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013.

(2)

In accordance with Article 97(2) of Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013 the Commission has examined that application and concluded that the conditions laid down in Articles 93 to 96, Article 97(1), and Articles 100, 101 and 102 of that Regulation are met.

(3)

In order to allow for the submission of statements of objection in accordance with Article 98 of Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013, the single document referred to in Article 94(1)(d) of that Regulation and the publication reference of the product specification made in the course of the preliminary national procedure for examining the application for protection of the name ‘Cebreros’ should be published in the Official Journal of the European Union,

HAS DECIDED AS FOLLOWS:

Sole Article

The single document established in accordance with Article 94(1)(d) of Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013 and the reference to the publication of the product specification for the name ‘Cebreros’ (PDO) are contained in the Annex to this Decision.

In accordance with Article 98 of Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013, the publication of this Decision shall confer the right to object to the protection of the name specified in the first paragraph of this Article within two months from the date of its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union.

Done at Brussels, 28 November 2018.

For the Commission

Phil HOGAN

Member of the Commission


(1)  OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 671.


ANNEX

SINGLE DOCUMENT

‘Cebreros’

PDO-ES-02348

Date of application: 20.2.2017

1.   Name(s) to be registered

Cebreros

2.   Geographical indication type

PDO - protected designation of origin

3.   Categories of grapevine products

1.

Wine

4.   Description of the wine(s)

White wines:

The white wines have shades that range from straw-coloured to golden yellow. They are clear and brilliant, with a fruity fragrance, and they are flavourful, balanced, and unctuous in the mouth. If the wines have been aged in barrels, they may be golden-coloured at the edges, their fruity aroma is riper and they are more full-bodied on the palate.

Maximum volatile acidity for wines more than one year old: 16,67 meq/l up to 10 % vol, increasing by 1 meq/l for each degree of alcoholic strength in excess of 10 %.

These wines may exceed the limits laid down in Annex IC, point 1 of Commission Regulation (EC) No 606/2009, provided that they comply with the conditions set out in Section 3 of this Annex.

The analytical parameters not laid down in this document shall comply with the rules in force.

General analytical characteristics

Maximum total alcoholic strength (in % volume):

 

Minimum actual alcoholic strength (in % volume):

12

Minimum total acidity:

4 in grams per litre expressed as tartaric acid

Maximum volatile acidity (in milliequivalents per litre):

13,33

Maximum total sulphur dioxide content (in milligrams per litre):

160

Rosé wines:

The rosé wines are clear and brilliant, and their colour ranges from pale pink to strawberry-pink or raspberry. They typically have notes of red and/or black fruits, with a medium structure in the mouth. If they have been aged in barrels, their tones may be more orangey, and the hints of fruit linger with less intensity, and woody impressions appear in the background.

Maximum volatile acidity for wines more than one year old: 16,67 meq/l up to 10 % vol, increasing by 1 meq/l for each degree of alcoholic strength in excess of 10 %.

These wines may exceed the limits laid down in Annex IC, point 1 of Commission Regulation (EC) No 606/2009, provided that they comply with the conditions set out in Section 3 of this Annex.

The analytical parameters not laid down in this document shall comply with the rules in force.

General analytical characteristics

Maximum total alcoholic strength (in % volume):

 

Minimum actual alcoholic strength (in % volume):

12

Minimum total acidity:

4,5 in grams per litre expressed as tartaric acid

Maximum volatile acidity (in milliequivalents per litre):

13,33

Maximum total sulphur dioxide content (in milligrams per litre):

160

Red wines:

The red wines are clear in appearance, with cherry-red tones and touches of violet. They typically have notes of red and/or black fruits, as well as acidity and balanced structure, which gives them finesse and elegance. If they have been aged in barrels, they retain their fruity range together with their woodiness, and they become smoother and acquire a longer-lasting flavour with brick-red tones.

Maximum volatile acidity for wines more than one year old: 16,67 meq/l up to 10 % vol, increasing by 1 meq/l for each degree of alcoholic strength in excess of 10 %.

These wines may exceed the limits laid down in Annex IC, point 1 of Commission Regulation (EC) No 606/2009, provided that they comply with the conditions set out in Section 3 of this Annex.

The analytical parameters not laid down in this document shall comply with the rules in force.

General analytical characteristics

Maximum total alcoholic strength (in % volume):

 

Minimum actual alcoholic strength (in % volume):

13

Minimum total acidity:

4,5 in grams per litre expressed as tartaric acid

Maximum volatile acidity (in milliequivalents per litre):

13,33

Maximum total sulphur dioxide content (in milligrams per litre):

150

5.   Wine-making practices

a.   Essential oenological practices

Cultivation practice

The planting, filling in of gaps, in situ grafting, and top grafting may only be done with authorised varieties.

New planting may only use the main varieties: Red Garnacha and Albillo Real.

The vine can be trained in the following ways:

Using the traditional goblet method and its variants.

On espalier vine-training systems: guided and supported training.

Specific oenological practice

Minimum potential alcoholic strength of the grapes: 12 % vol. (red varieties) and 11 % vol. (white varieties).

Only tanks and containers that do not contaminate the wine and which are permitted under current legislation shall be used.

Maximum extraction yield: 70 l per 100 kg of grapes.

Ageing conditions

Wines using the term ‘FERMENTED IN BARRELS’ (‘FERMENTADO EN BARRICA’) shall use oak barrels for both the fermentation and the ageing with the lees.

Subsequent ageing shall be carried out in oak barrels.

Calculation of the ageing period shall start on 1 November of the year of the harvest.

Restriction relevant to vinification

The white wines shall be made exclusively with the Albillo Real variety.

The rosé and red varieties shall be made with a minimum of 95 % of the Red Garnacha variety.

For the extraction of the must, the use of both high-speed centrifuge machines and continuous presses is prohibited.

b.   Maximum yields

6 000 kilograms of grapes per hectare

42 hectolitres per hectare

6.   Demarcated area

The municipalities are listed below, all of which are in the province of Avila:

La Adrada, El Barraco, Burgohondo, Casavieja, Casillas, Cebreros, Cuevas del Valle, Fresnedilla, Gavilanes, Herradón de Pinares, Higuera de las Dueñas, El Hoyo de Pinares, Lanzahíta, Mijares, Mombeltrán, Navahondilla, Navalmoral, Navaluenga, Navarredondilla, Navarrevisca, Navatalgordo, Pedro Bernardo, Piedralaves, San Bartolomé de Pinares, San Esteban del Valle, San Juan de la Nava, San Juan del Molinillo, Santa Cruz de Pinares, Santa Cruz del Valle, Santa María del Tiétar, Serranillos, Sotillo de la Adrada, El Tiemblo, Villanueva de Ávila and Villarejo del Valle.

7.   Main wine grapes

 

ALBILLO REAL

 

RED GARNACHA - GIRONET

8.   Description of the link(s)

Natural and human factors

Natural factors

The area to be protected is located in the Central Iberian System of mountain ranges, between the basins of the Alberche and Tiétar rivers, which are tributaries of the Tagus. The eastern part of the Sierra de Gredos mountain range separates the two river basins. It mostly contains materials that are granitic in origin.

In the Alberche basin, the terrain is rugged, but without sharp features. It is interleaved with steep-sloped hills of considerable height. The vineyard is located mainly on the hillsides of the left bank of the valley facing south. The altitude is between 800 m and 1 000 m, although some parcels may be above 1 000 m. The Tiétar river basin is lower-lying, but rises abruptly towards its source.

The soils are loamy, sandy, and slightly acidic, with a granite bedrock and little organic material. There is a shale area with loamy-clay-sandy soils, although it is much smaller. According to the FAO classification, the soils in the area are mostly Cambisols. Dystric and Humic Cambisols account for most of the soils in the vineyards.

The climate is Mediterranean with a continental influence. It has relatively short winters that are not very cold. The summers are long, hot and dry. The average annual temperature in the area where the vineyard is located (the Sierra de Gredos has a mountain climate) is between 12 and 15 °C, and the rainfall varies between 400 and 800 mm a year. There are 215 frost-free days a year. In general, it may be said that the climate is warmer and more rainy than in the areas elsewhere in the region, where the River Douro PDOs are located.

Human factors

For centuries, humans have selected the best lands for cultivating vines, choosing those that were most suitable and that had a south-southeast aspect. The high altitude of certain plots - with an elevation of over 1 000 metres - should be noted.

Red Garnacha and Albillo Real are the main varieties used for making the wine. There have been references throughout history to how well suited these varieties are to the area. Although these varieties are grown in other areas, the qualities of the soil and climate produce very distinctive characteristics in the protected wines.

The vineyards in the demarcated area are very old. 94 % of the vines are more than 50 years old and 37 % are more than 80 years old. This means low production volumes that are high in quality.

There is a spacious planting pattern in the area, generally greater than 2,5 × 2,5 metres. The planting density is thus 1 600 vines per hectare, suited to the low and irregular rainfall and to the soil that is poor in organic matter.

Characteristics of the product

The wines in the demarcated area can be separated into: whites, rosés, reds, young and aged. These all share the following characteristics of the terroir:

High alcoholic strength.

High and balanced tartaric acid.

Good storage potential. The red wines in particular keep very well.

They are balanced, smooth and graceful on the palate and very lively.

Causal link

The distinctiveness of the wines from the demarcated area is essentially due to the geographical environment: As mentioned above, the area is defined by two mountain ranges and two rivers, both belonging to the river Tagus basin. The vineyard is located mainly on the hillsides of the left banks of the valleys facing south. As a result, the characteristics of the area’s soil, geology and climate make for an exceptional and singular area for vine cultivation. In addition, human know-how in selecting the most appropriate varieties and the most suitable growing method makes it possible to produce a specific and unique product. The main factors that bear out this link are summarised below:

The sandy loan texture of the soils with the granite bedrock gives the wines finesse, making them graceful on the palate.

The microclimate of the area to be protected is - unlike the surrounding areas - more varied than the rest of Castile and Leon, and is cooler than the areas to the south and east, with its own marked features. However, the absence of rainfall in the summer and early autumn ensures that the grape harvests are healthy and of high quality.

The vineyards are located at high altitude, with some situated more than a thousand metres above sea level. This is why the resulting grapes have very good acidity, bringing freshness and liveliness to the wine.

The grape variety map also attests to its distinctiveness. The wine growers have for centuries chosen the varieties best suited to the area: Red Garnacha and Albillo Real, which are the basis of the wines and give them their distinguishing feature. Red Garnacha produces wines with a high alcoholic strength, although due to the altitude and climate they are fresh on the palate. Albillo Real is specific to the area and distinct from Albillo Mayor, typical of other areas in Castile and Leon; it produces complex, flavourful and lively wines, very suited to ageing in the barrel.

The planting distances that have been traditionally used, together with the low rainfall and the lack of organic material in the soil give rise to very low grape yields. This is one of the factors behind the high quality of the grapes from both a production and polyphenol perspective. They have balanced analytical parameters and ripen very well.

The vineyard is very old (94 % of the vines are more than 50 years old and 37 % are more than 80 years old.) Combined with the features mentioned earlier, this means the wines store particularly well.

Taken together, the circumstances described above produce grapes that ripen very well and mean that wines with a high alcohol content (not less than 12 ° in the white and rosé wines and 13 ° in the reds) can be produced. At the same time there is considerable acidity (total acidity of not less than 4,5 grams per litre expressed as tartaric acid). This double characteristic, a high alcohol content and high acidity, gives the Cebreros wines their characteristic balance.

The wines covered by the protected area are different from those of surrounding areas, in particular the wines from the Duero valley, in that they display this typical balance between alcohol and acidity, with a structure that is marked but not excessive, resulting in wines with a very elegant character.

9.   Essential further conditions

Legal framework:

In national legislation

Type of further condition:

Packaging in the demarcated geographical area

Description of the condition:

The wine-making process includes bottling and subsequent ageing in the bottle, and thus the organoleptic characteristics described in the specification can only be guaranteed if all of the wine handling operations take place in the demarcated area. The wines are rounded off in the bottle, which is where the production process ends. It is here that the wines take on the characteristics defined in section 2 of this specification and, in particular, their organoleptic characteristics. The bulk transport of wine, unbottled, would mean that the product would be moved without this final operation, resulting in a loss of quality (oxidisation and other signs of change, and so on).

Bottling of wines is therefore one of the key criteria for ensuring the characteristics acquired during the production and - where appropriate - ageing process. Because of this, bottling must also be performed in the bottling facilities of wineries located in the production area.

Legal framework:

In national legislation

Type of further condition:

Additional provisions relating to labelling

Description of the condition:

The term ‘QUALITY WINE OF CEBREROS’ (‘VINO DE CALIDAD DE CEBREROS’) may be used on the labelling instead of ‘PROTECTED DESIGNATION OF ORIGIN “CEBREROS”’.

It shall be obligatory to indicate the year of the crop, vintage, harvest or equivalent terms, even where the wines have not been aged.

The terms ‘FERMENTED IN BARRELS’ or ‘OAK’ (‘ROBLE’) may be used, provided that the wines meet the conditions laid down in current legislation.

In those batches where it is proven that 100 % of the grapes used to make the wine come from a single municipality, it may be stated on the label that the wine has been made using grapes from that municipality.

Link to the product specification

http://www.itacyl.es/opencms_wf/opencms/informacion_al_ciudadano/calidad_alimentaria/7_vinicos/index.html


V Announcements

PROCEDURES RELATING TO THE IMPLEMENTATION OF COMPETITION POLICY

European Commission

5.12.2018   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 438/8


Communication from the Commission published pursuant to Article 27(4) of Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2003 in Case AT.39398 — Visa MIF

(2018/C 438/03)

1.   Introduction

(1)

According to Article 9 of the Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2003 of 16 December 2002 on the implementation of the rules on competition laid down in Articles 81 and 82 of the Treaty (1), the Commission may decide — in cases where it intends to adopt a decision requiring that an infringement is brought to an end and the parties concerned offer commitments to meet the concerns expressed to them by the Commission in its preliminary assessment — to make those commitments binding on the undertakings. Such a decision may be adopted for a specified period and shall conclude that there are no longer grounds for action by the Commission. According to Article 27(4) of the same Regulation, the Commission shall publish a concise summary of the case and the main content of the commitments. Interested parties may submit their observations within the time limit fixed by the Commission.

2.   Summary of the case

(2)

On 3 August 2017, the Commission adopted a Supplementary Statement of Objections (‘SSO’) against Visa Inc. and Visa International Services Association. This SSO supplements further the Supplementary Statement of Objections of 23 of April 2013 and the Statement of Objections of 3 April 2009, addressed to Visa Inc., Visa International Service Association and Visa Europe Limited (2) (together ‘Visa’).

(3)

The SSO outlined the Commission’s preliminary view that Visa Inc. and Visa International Services Association have infringed Article 101 of the TFEU and Article 53 of the EEA Agreement by setting rules on multilateral interchange fees (‘MIFs’) that apply to inter-regional transactions with consumer debit and credit cards issued by an issuer (cardholder’s bank) located outside the EEA at merchant outlets located in the EEA. These include ‘card present’ transactions (when the cardholder is present, for example in a shop) and ‘card not present’ transactions (when the cardholder is not present, for example when the card number and authentication details are transmitted via internet, mail or telephone).

(4)

The SSO notes that Visa’s rules oblige the acquirer (merchant’s bank) to pay inter-regional MIFs to the issuer (cardholder’s bank) for each inter-regional transaction at a merchant outlet in the EEA, and also that Visa’s inter-regional MIFs amount to decisions of an association of undertakings within the meaning of Article 101(1) TFEU/Article 53(1) EEA.

(5)

As outlined in the SSO, when a cardholder uses a payment card to buy goods or services from a merchant, the merchant pays a merchant service charge to its acquirer. The acquirer keeps part of this charge (the acquirer’s margin), a part is passed on to the issuer (the MIF) and a part is passed to the scheme operator (in this case Visa). The SSO further states that a large part of the merchant service charge is determined by the MIF. However, the Commission has in its past cases accepted MIFs which comply with a so called Merchant Indifference Test (‘MIT’) (3). According to the test, the interchange fee should not on average exceed the transactional benefits that merchants derive from accepting payment cards. Such a MIF ensures that merchants, on average, are indifferent between accepting card payments and other means of payments, creating a level playing field for competition between alternative payment instruments.

3.   The main content of the offered commitments

(6)

Visa Inc. and Visa International Services Association, as the parties subject to the proceedings, do not agree with the Commission’s preliminary assessment. They have nevertheless offered commitments pursuant to Article 9 of Regulation (EC) No 1/2003, to meet the Commission’s competition concerns. The commitments are briefly summarised below and published in full in English on the website of the Directorate-General for Competition at:

http://ec.europa.eu/competition/index_en.html

(7)

Six months following the date on which Visa receives formal notification of the Commission Decision according to Article 9 of Regulation (EC) No 1/2003, Visa commits to Cap:

(a)

its Inter-regional Debit MIF for Inter-regional Card Present (CP) Transactions at 0,2 %; and

(b)

its Inter-regional Credit MIF for Inter-regional Card Present (CP) Transactions, at 0,3 %; and

(c)

its Inter-regional Debit MIF for Inter-regional Card Not Present (CNP) Transactions at 1,15 %; and

(d)

its Inter-regional Credit MIF for Inter-regional Card Not Present (CNP) Transactions at 1,5 %.

(8)

These Commitments will remain in force for a period of five years and six months after notification of the commitment decision to Visa.

(9)

At the latest within 12 working days after notification of the commitments decision, Visa will notify each acquirer of Visa inter-regional transactions and will request that each acquirer, in turn, notify promptly their respective merchant customers that: (i) the Commitments have been adopted; and that (ii) the Inter-regional MIFs will be capped for all future consumer debit and credit card inter-regional transactions for the duration of the Commitments. Also at the latest within 12 working days after notification of the commitments decision, Visa shall also publish in a clearly visible and easily accessible manner on the Visa Europe website all Inter-regional Debit and Credit MIFs applicable to Inter-regional CP and CNP transactions.

(10)

Visa shall not circumvent or attempt to circumvent these Commitments either directly or indirectly by any act or omission. In particular, as of the notification of the commitment decision, Visa will refrain from all practices which have the equivalent object or effect of inter-regional MIFs. This includes specifically but not exclusively implementing programs or new rules whereby Visa transfers scheme or other fees charged to acquirers within the EEA to non-EEA issuers.

(11)

Subject to its commitment of non-circumvention, Visa may adopt appropriate consumer protection measures to ensure that consumers will not be adversely affected by the effects of changes to its inter-regional MIFs in particular concerning matters such as fraud, currency conversion, refunds and charge backs.

(12)

Visa shall appoint a Monitoring Trustee to monitor Visa’s compliance with the Commitments. Before appointment, the Commission shall have the power to approve or reject the proposed Trustee.

(13)

The current antitrust investigation (supra section 2) will remain open towards Visa pending further assessment by the Commission, possibly including any comments made in response to this Notice.

4.   Invitation to make Comments

(14)

Subject to market testing, the Commission intends to adopt a decision under Article 9(1) of Regulation (EC) No 1/2003 declaring the Commitments summarised above and published on the internet, on the website of the Directorate-General for Competition, to be binding.

(15)

In accordance with Article 27(4) of Regulation (EC) No 1/2003, the Commission invites interested third parties to submit their observations on the proposed Commitments. These observations must reach the Commission not later than one month following the date of this publication. Interested third parties are also asked to submit a non-confidential version of their comments, in which any information they claim to be business secrets and other confidential information should be deleted and replaced as required by a non-confidential summary or by the words ‘business secrets’ or ‘confidential’.

(16)

Answers and comments should preferably be reasoned and should set out the relevant facts. If you identify a problem with any part of the proposed commitments, the Commission would also invite you to suggest a possible solution.

(17)

Observations can be sent to the Commission under reference number AT.39398 — Visa MIF either by email (COMP-GREFFE-ANTITRUST@ec.europa.eu), by fax +32 22950128) or by post, to the following address:

European Commission

Directorate-General for Competition

Antitrust Registry

1049 Bruxelles/Brussel

BELGIQUE/BELGIË


(1)  OJ L 1, 4.1.2003, p. 1. With effect from 1 December 2009, Articles 81 and 82 of the EC Treaty have become Articles 101 and, respectively, 102 of the TFEU. The two sets of provisions are in substance identical. For the purposes of this notice, references to Articles 101 and 102 of the TFEU should be understood as references to Articles 81 and 82 of the EC Treaty when applicable.

(2)  On 3 June 2016, the merger between Visa Inc. and Visa Europe was completed and Visa Inc. acquired Visa Europe. As a consequence, Visa Europe ceased to be a separate undertaking. Therefore, any reference to Visa Europe throughout the text shall be read as referring to the period prior to 3 June 2016.

(3)  For information on the Merchant Indifference Test see the executive summary of the Commission’s 2015 Survey on the Cost of Cash and Card Processing, p. 3, available at http://ec.europa.eu/competition/sectors/financial_services/dgcomp_final_report_en.pdf


5.12.2018   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 438/11


Communication from the Commission published pursuant to Article 27(4) of Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2003 in Case AT.40049 — Mastercard II

(2018/C 438/04)

1.   Introduction

(1)

According to Article 9 of the Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2003 of 16 December 2002 on the implementation of the rules on competition laid down in Articles 81 and 82 of the Treaty (1), the Commission may decide — in cases where it intends to adopt a decision requiring that an infringement is brought to an end and the parties concerned offer commitments to meet the concerns expressed to them by the Commission in its preliminary assessment — to make those commitments binding on the undertakings. Such a decision may be adopted for a specified period and shall conclude that there are no longer grounds for action by the Commission. According to Article 27(4) of the same Regulation, the Commission shall publish a concise summary of the case and the main content of the commitments. Interested parties may submit their observations within the time limit fixed by the Commission.

2.   Summary of the case

(2)

On 9 July 2015, the Commission adopted a Statement of Objections (‘SO’) against MasterCard Europe SA; MasterCard Incorporated and MasterCard International Incorporated (together ‘Mastercard’).

(3)

The SO outlined the Commission’s preliminary view that Mastercard’s rules on multilateral interchange fees (‘MIFs’ (2)) that apply to inter-regional transactions with consumer debit and credit cards issued by an issuer (cardholder’s bank) located outside the EEA at merchant outlets located in the EEA infringe Article 101 of the TFEU and Article 53 of the EEA Agreement. These include ‘card present’ transactions (when the cardholder is present, for example in a shop) and ‘card not present’ transactions (when the cardholder is not present, for example when the card number and authentication details are transmitted via internet, mail or telephone).

(4)

The SO notes that Mastercard’s rules oblige the acquirer (merchant’s bank) to pay inter-regional MIFs to the issuer (cardholder’s bank) for each inter-regional transaction at a merchant outlet in the EEA, and also that Mastercard’s inter-regional MIFs amount to decisions of an association of undertakings within the meaning of Article 101(1) TFEU/Article 53(1) EEA.

(5)

As outlined in the SO, when a cardholder uses a payment card to buy goods or services from a merchant, the merchant pays a merchant service charge to its acquirer. The acquirer keeps part of this charge (the acquirer’s margin), a part is passed on to the issuer (the MIF) and a part is passed to the scheme operator (in this case Mastercard). The SO further states that a large part of the merchant service charge is determined by the MIF. However, the Commission has in its past cases accepted MIFs which comply with a so called Merchant Indifference Test (‘MIT’) (3). According to the test, the interchange fee should not on average exceed the transactional benefits that merchants derive from accepting payment cards. Such a MIF ensures that merchants, on average, are indifferent between accepting card payments and other means of payments, creating a level playing field for competition between alternative payment instruments.

3.   The main content of the offered commitments

(6)

MasterCard Europe SA; MasterCard Incorporated and MasterCard International Incorporated, as the parties subject to the proceedings, do not agree with the Commission’s preliminary assessment. They have nevertheless offered commitments pursuant to Article 9 of Regulation (EC) No 1/2003, to meet the Commission’s competition concerns. The commitments are briefly summarised below and published in full in English on the website of the Directorate-General for Competition at:

http://ec.europa.eu/competition/index_en.html

(7)

Six months following the date on which Mastercard receives formal notification of the Commission Decision according to Article 9 of Regulation (EC) No 1/2003, Mastercard commits to Cap:

(a)

its Debit IIF for Inter-regional Card Present (CP) Transactions at 0,2 %; and

(b)

its Credit IIF for Inter-regional Card Present (CP) Transactions, at 0,3 %; and

(c)

its Debit IIF for Inter-regional Card Not Present (CNP) Transactions at 1,15 %; and

(d)

its Credit IIF for Inter-regional Card Not Present (CNP) Transactions at 1,5 %.

(8)

These Commitments will remain in force for a period of five years and six months after notification of the commitment decision to Mastercard.

(9)

At the latest within 12 working days after notification of the commitment decision, Mastercard will notify each acquirer of Mastercard Inter-regional Transactions and will request that each acquirer, in turn, notify promptly their respective merchant customers that: (i) the Commitments have been adopted; and that (ii) the IIFs will be capped for all future Consumer debit and credit card Inter-regional Transactions for the duration of the Commitments. Also at the latest within 12 working days after notification of the commitments decision, Mastercard shall also publish in a clearly visible and easily accessible manner on Mastercard’s European website all Debit and Credit IIFs applicable to Inter-regional CP and CNP transactions.

(10)

Mastercard shall not circumvent or attempt to circumvent these Commitments either directly or indirectly by any act or omission. In particular, as of the notification of the commitment decision, Mastercard will refrain from all practices which have the equivalent object or effect of IIFs. This includes specifically but not exclusively implementing programs or new rules whereby Mastercard transfers scheme or other fees charged to acquirers within the EEA to non-EEA issuers.

(11)

Subject to its commitment of non-circumvention, Mastercard may adopt appropriate consumer protection measures to ensure that consumers will not be adversely affected by the effects of changes to its IIFs in particular concerning matters such as fraud, currency conversion, refunds and charge backs.

(12)

Mastercard shall appoint a Monitoring Trustee to monitor Mastercard’s compliance with the Commitments. Before appointment, the Commission shall have the power to approve or reject the proposed Trustee.

(13)

The current antitrust investigation (supra section 2) will remain open towards Mastercard pending further assessment by the Commission, possibly including any comments made in response to this Notice.

4.   Invitation to make comments

(14)

Subject to market testing, the Commission intends to adopt a decision under Article 9(1) of Regulation (EC) No 1/2003 declaring the Commitments summarised above and published on the internet, on the website of the Directorate-General for Competition, to be binding.

(15)

In accordance with Article 27(4) of Regulation (EC) No 1/2003, the Commission invites interested third parties to submit their observations on the proposed Commitments. These observations must reach the Commission not later than one month following the date of this publication. Interested third parties are also asked to submit a non-confidential version of their comments, in which any information they claim to be business secrets and other confidential information should be deleted and replaced as required by a non-confidential summary or by the words ‘business secrets’ or ‘confidential’.

(16)

Answers and comments should preferably be reasoned and should set out the relevant facts. If you identify a problem with any part of the proposed commitments, the Commission would also invite you to suggest a possible solution.

(17)

Observations can be sent to the Commission under reference AT.40049 — Mastercard II either by email (COMP-GREFFE-ANTITRUST@ec.europa.eu), by fax +32 22950128) or by post, to the following address:

European Commission

Directorate-General for Competition

Antitrust Registry

1049 Bruxelles/Brussel

BELGIQUE/BELGIË


(1)  OJ L 1, 4.1.2003, p. 1. With effect from 1 December 2009, Articles 81 and 82 of the EC Treaty have become Articles 101 and, respectively, 102 of the TFEU. The two sets of provisions are in substance identical. For the purposes of this notice, references to Articles 101 and 102 of the TFEU should be understood as references to Articles 81 and 82 of the EC Treaty when applicable.

(2)  Mastercard defines inter-regional MIFs as interchange fees set by Mastercard that apply, by default, to consumer credit and debit card inter-regional transactions (‘IIFs’).

(3)  For information on the Merchant Indifference Test see the executive summary of the Commission’s 2015 Survey on the Cost of Cash and Card Processing, p. 3, available at http://ec.europa.eu/competition/sectors/financial_services/dgcomp_final_report_en.pdf.