Short Reads

European Commission proposes a new Directive to empower national competition authorities to be more effective enforcers of EU competition law rules

European Commission proposes a new Directive to empower national competition authorities to be more effective enforcers of EU competition law rules

European Commission proposes a new Directive to empower national competition authorities to be more effective enforcers of EU competition law rules

04.04.2017

On 22 March 2017, the European Commission published a proposal for a new Directive that aims to provide national competition authorities ("NCAs") with minimum instruments to detect EU competition law infringements and impose effective sanctions.

Decentralized application of EU competition law by the NCAs has become a vital pillar of enforcement since Regulation 1/2003 entered into force in May 2004. The proposed Directive follows the public consultation on empowering NCAs to be more effective enforcers of the EU competition law rules, which the Commission launched in 2015, and particularly addresses the following aspects of enforcement:

  • Independency and resources. The proposed Directive seeks to ensure that NCAs have the necessary human, financial and technical resources at their disposal and enforce EU competition law impartially and independently from political and other external influences;
  • Investigative powers. The proposal provides NCAs with the minimum effective investigative powers, most notably the power to conduct all necessary dawn raids and the power to gather evidence in either physical or digital form;
  • Decision-making powers. NCAs need to be able to adopt prohibition decisions, including the power to impose structural and behavioural remedies, commitment decisions and interim measures;
  • Fines. To ensure the effective and uniform enforcement of EU competition law, NCAs should have the power to impose effective, proportionate and deterrent fines on companies that infringe EU competition law rules. Importantly, the proposed Directive sets out that the notion of undertaking is applied in this context, meaning that parent companies and legal and economic successors of infringing undertakings cannot escape the payment of fines;
  • Leniency. The proposed Directive transposes the main principles of the European leniency programme into law. By reducing the current differences between Member States, the proposed Directive aims to increase legal certainty and thus to maintain incentives for companies to apply for leniency; and
  • Mutual assistance. The proposal ensures that NCAs can request and provide mutual assistance for the carrying out of investigative measures, the notification of decisions and the enforcement of fines.

The proposed Directive complements the system of decentralised enforcement put in place by Regulation 1/2003 and further harmonizes the procedural powers and operations of NCAs. The Directive has been forwarded to the European Parliament and Council for adoption. Once adopted, Member States will have to transpose the provisions of the Directive into national law. It will depend on the Member State whether the Directive will entail extensive changes as many of them already have systems in place that are in line with the provisions of the Directive.

This article was published in the Competition Law Newsletter of April 2017. Other articles in this newsletter:

  1. Court of Justice confirms the fine imposed on Samsung in the cathode ray tubes cartel
  2. Court of Justice rules on the Hearing Officer's competence to resolve confidentiality requests
  3. General Court annuls European Commission's merger blocking decision in UPS/TNT for procedural errors 
  4. European Commission launches anonymous whistleblower tool
  5. District Court of Gelderland denies passing-on defense in antitrust litigation related to the GIS-cartel

Team

Related news

07.02.2020 BE law
Het finale Belgische ‘nationaal energie- en klimaatplan’ en de Belgische langetermijnstrategie: het geduld van de Commissie op de proef gesteld?

Articles - Op 31 december 2019 diende België, nog net op tijd, zijn definitieve nationaal energie- en klimaatplan (NEKP) in bij de Commissie. Het staat nu al vast dat het Belgische NEKP niet op applaus zal worden onthaald door de Commissie. Verder laat ook de Belgische langetermijnstrategie op zich wachten. Wat zijn de gevolgen?

Read more

06.02.2020 NL law
CDC/Kemira: Amsterdam Court of Appeal applies European principle of effectiveness to limitation periods

Short Reads - In a private enforcement case brought by CDC against Kemira, the Amsterdam Court of Appeal applies the European principle of effectiveness and rules that claims are not time-barred under Spanish, Finnish and Swedish law. With reference to the Cogeco judgment of the ECJ, the Court considers that claimants must be able to await the outcome of any administrative appeal against an infringement decision, even in relation to respondents who themselves have not filed appeals against the infringement decision.

Read more

06.02.2020 NL law
Pay-for-delay: brightened lines between object and effect restrictions

Short Reads - In its first pay-for-delay case, the ECJ has clarified the criteria determining whether settlement agreements between a patent holder of a pharmaceutical product and a generic manufacturer may have as their object or effect to restrict EU competition law. The judgment confirms the General Court’s earlier rulings in Lundbeck and Servier (see our October 2016 and December 2018 newsletters) in which it was held that pay-for-delay agreements (in these cases) constituted a restriction ‘by object’.

Read more

06.02.2020 NL law
Consumers and Sustainability: 2020 competition enforcement buzzwords

Short Reads - The ACM will include the effects of mergers on labour conditions in its review. It will also investigate excessive pricing of prescription drugs. As well as these topics, the ACM has designated the digital economy and energy transition as its 2020 focus areas. Companies can therefore expect increased enforcement to protect online consumers, and active probing of algorithms.

Read more

06.02.2020 NL law
The ACM may cast the net wide in cartel investigations

Short Reads - Companies beware: the ACM may not need to specify the scope of its investigation into suspected cartel infringements in as much detail as expected. On 14 January 2020, the Dutch Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal upheld the ACM’s appeal against judgments of the Rotterdam District Court, which had quashed cartel fines imposed on cold storage operators. The operators had argued that the ACM was time-barred from pursuing a case against them, because the ACM had not suspended the prescription period by beginning investigative actions specifically related to the alleged infringements.

Read more

06.02.2020 NL law
Den Bosch Court of Appeal revives damages claims in Dutch prestressing steel litigation

Short Reads - On 28 January 2020, the Court of Appeal of Den Bosch issued a ruling in the Dutch prestressing steel litigation. In its ruling, the Court of Appeal overturned a 2016 judgment of the District Court of Limburg, in which it was held that civil damages claims brought by Deutsche Bahn were time-barred under German law (see our January 2017 newsletter).

Read more

This website uses cookies. Some of these cookies are essential for the technical functioning of our website and you cannot disable these cookies if you want to read our website. We also use functional cookies to ensure the website functions properly and analytical cookies to personalise content and to analyse our traffic. You can either accept or refuse these functional and analytical cookies.

Privacy – en cookieverklaring