Brussels, 29th September 2006
Competition: Commission and other ECN members co-operate in use of leniency to fight cross border cartels
The European Commission has adopted draft amendments to its Notice on Immunity from Fines and Reduction of Fines in Cartel Cases (the 2002 Leniency Notice). The proposed amendments take stock of issues that have arisen during the four years of application of the 2002 notice and are in line with the European Competition Network’s (ECN) Model Leniency Programme that was also launched today. The heads of Member States’ competition authorities will use their best efforts to align their leniency programmes on the Model Programme, and today’s changes to the notice show the Commission’s determination to do so quickly. These developments move towards a one stop leniency shop by harmonising the procedure and requirements for leniency applications, to make it easier for companies to apply for leniency when it is not clear which authority will take the case forward. The changes to the Commission’s Notice also introduce a marker system and clarify the information an applicant needs to provide to benefit from immunity as well as the conditions for immunity and reduction of fines. They also include a corporate statements procedure that takes into account comments made during public consultation on an initial proposal launched in February 2006. Interested third parties are invited to comment on the Commission proposal by 27 October 2006, before it is finally adopted by the Commission.
Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said “Cartels do severe damage to
the European economy, and are serious violations of the competition rules.
Effective action against cartels requires heavy sanctions to punish and deter
and incentives to participants to report cartels. My colleagues in the ECN share
my concerns about potential shortcomings in the current system and we are
joining forces to deliver a European one stop shop model. The Commission
Leniency Notice is a formidable and successful tool to detect and terminate
cartels. These changes will make it even more effective.”
Proposed amendments to the Commission’s Notice
The Commission’s Leniency Notice has been in force since February 2002 (see IP/02/247 and MEMO/02/23). More than four years of experience in applying the Notice shows that the clarity and effectiveness of the Notice can be improved further.
The changes proposed will ensure that the Leniency Notice will:
For further information on the proposed changes to
the Leniency Notice, see MEMO/06/357.
The ECN Model Leniency Programme
The ECN Model Programme sets out the principal elements which the ECN members believe should be common in all programmes. It also introduces a model for a uniform summary application system at the national level for immunity applications in cases concerning more than three Member States. The ECN is the network of Member States’ competition authorities and the Commission that exists to ensure effective and consistent application of EC Treaty competition rules at national and EU level.
The ECN Model Leniency Programme is available in all official languages at: http://ec.europa.eu/competition/index_en.html
For further information on the ECN Model Leniency Programme, see MEMO/06/356.
The Commission will carefully monitor the improvements to the leniency programmes as regards the one-stop shop for leniency applications that affect multiple jurisdictions, before deciding whether further steps are necessary.
For more information on the Commission’s action against cartels, see MEMO/06/337.