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Competition: 2005 Annual Report on Competition Policy
Commission Européenne - IP/06/804 20/06/2006
Brussels, 20th June 2006
An overview of the most important policy and legislative initiatives and decisions adopted by the European Commission in application of EU competition law in 2005 is featured in the 2005 Annual Report on Competition Policy, issued today.
Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said “The competition policy pursued by the European Commission is fundamental in shaping competitive European markets, and promoting growth and jobs. This report gives an overview of our recent decisions and policy initiatives, and will help stimulate debate and ensure compliance with the EU rules on cartels, abuses of dominant position, merger control and state subsidies”.
In 2005 a comprehensive and far-reaching reform of state aid rules and procedures, the State Aid Action Plan, was launched (see IP/05/680 and MEMO/05/195). The aim is to ensure less and better targeted state subsidies, which will favour competition and ensure that scarce resources are put to the best possible use. Implementation of the Action Plan started notably with the adoption of a package of measures providing greater legal certainty in the financing of services of general economic interest (see IP/05/937), a consultation document on State Aid for Innovation (see IP/05/1169 and MEMO/05/333) and adoption of new Regional Aid Guidelines for the period from 2007-2013 (see IP/05/1653 and MEMO/05/491). The Report also gives an overview of individual decisions relating to state aid on a sector-by-sector basis.
In the field of EC Treaty rules on restrictive business practices and abuse of dominance, policy developments in 2005 include publication of a Green Paper on damages actions for breach of these rules (see IP/05/1634 and MEMO/05/489), as well as a Discussion Paper on exclusionary abuses of dominance (see IP/05/1626), which is part of a drive to develop antitrust policy on a sound economic footing. Major sector inquiries were launched in key sectors of the economy - gas and electricity (see IP/05/716 and MEMO/05/203) and financial services (see IP/05/719 and MEMO/05/204)– in order to identify current barriers to competition and evaluate possible solutions. The crackdown on cartels continued, with five cartel decisions adopted, imposing fines totalling some €680 million (see MEMO/05/493). With respect to abuse of dominance, in 2005 the Commission notably adopted a decision fining the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca for misusing the regulatory system in order to delay market entry of generic drugs (see IP/05/737).
Concerning the EC rules on merger control, a major study on merger remedies
was published in 2005, assessing the remedies which have been accepted by the
Commission in past cases. The number of mergers and acquisitions notified to the
Commission under the EU Merger Regulation rose again - to 313. The Commission
adopted five decisions following in-depth investigations, resulting in two
unconditional clearances and three clearance decisions which required
commitments from the merging parties (Siemens/VA Tech (see IP/05/919),
Johnson & Johnson/Guidant (see IP/05/1065),
E.ON/MOL (see IP/05/1658)).