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20 June 2018

New measures to fight against illegal competition practices in the internal market

The EU's committee of permanent representatives endorsed an agreement between the Council and the European Parliament on new measures to bring the enforcement of competition rules in line with the digital age and to tackle illegal competition practices in the EU.

Better enforcement of competition rules

EU competition rules are enforced by the national competition authorities (NCAs) of the member states in parallel to the Commission. The NCAs and the Commission form together a network of competition authorities, called the European Competition Network, which ensures that competition rules are applied.

Currently, differences in the application of these rules make that businesses engaged in anti-competitive practices can face different outcomes of proceedings depending on the country in which they are active. For example, businesses can in some cases avoid fines simply by restructuring.

Under the new rules, NCAs will be better equipped to detect agreements, decisions or concerted practices prohibited by competition law and prevent any abuse of dominant position.

The new measures provide the NCAs with common instruments and effective enforcement powers to ensure that they will have:

  • independence when enforcing EU antitrust rules, without interferences that would put at risk their impartiality
  • the powers and resources needed to collect relevant information on businesses subject to investigation, while respecting their rights to defence
  • adequate tools for imposing sanctions for infringements
  • coordinated leniency programmes to encourage companies to reveal secret cartels by applying common criteria to grant immunity or reduction of fines.

Full press release

© European Council

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