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Brussels, 23 rd July 2009

Antitrust: Commission welcomes full application of EU antitrust rules by Slovak Competition Authority

The European Commission is satisfied that amendments made to the Slovak Competition Act have brought it into conformity with EU law by ensuring that the Slovak Competition Authority can apply EU antitrust rules to the electronic communications, energy and post sectors and has therefore closed its infringement procedure against Slovakia. A provision of the Slovak Competition Act had previously limited the power of the Slovak Competition Authority to apply EC Treaty rules prohibiting cartels and other restrictive business practices (Article 81) and abuses of a dominant position (Article 82) to these sectors. This provision has now been repealed after the Commission sent Slovakia a reasoned opinion under EC Treaty infringement procedure requesting the law to be amended (see IP/09/200 ). The Slovak Competition Authority is now able to apply EU competition rules without restrictions.

Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes commented, “I welcome the steps taken by the Slovak authorities to ensure that consumers and businesses can benefit from the full application of EU competition rules by the Slovak Competition Authority. National competition authorities are an essential element of competition law enforcement in the EU."

On 2 February 2009 the Commission sent a reasoned opinion to the Slovak Republic formally requesting it to bring the Competition Act into conformity with EU law (see IP/09/200 ). In particular, section 2(6) of the Slovak Competition Act limited the ability of the Slovak Competition Authority to effectively apply Articles 81 and 82 of the EC Treaty to anticompetitive behaviour, as it excluded the application of the Competition Act to behaviour that would breach the Slovak regulatory framework for electronic communications, energy and post. This was contrary to EU law, which requires a application in full of both competition law and regulation.

Following the Reasoned Opinion, the Slovak Republic repealed the contested provision with effect from 1 June 2009. The Commission has therefore closed the infringement procedure against the Slovak Republic.

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