Applying ne bis in idem in the aftermath of bpost and Nordzucker: the case of EU competition policy in digital markets


In bpost and Nordzucker the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Justice has finally arrived at a unified test for ne bis in idem, applicable to all areas of EU law. It rejected the antitrust-specific threefold condition of idem (same offender, same facts, and same protected legal interest) developed in Aalborg Portland and Toshiba, and focused solely on material acts, in line with Van Esbroek and Menci. The judgements are extremely timely given the increasing risks of overlapping decisions as a result of recent legislative initiatives undertaken at EU and national level targeting large online platforms. The paper maintains that, although bpost and Nordzucker are welcomed, some relevant issues remain unaddressed and may undermine the sound implementation of the ne bis in idem principle in the digital economy.