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Brussels, 17 December 2010

Antitrust: Commission opens investigation against Deutsche Telekom concerning behaviour of its subsidiary Slovak Telekom on broadband markets

The European Commission has extended the scope of an investigation under EU antitrust rules into Slovak Telekom's behaviour on broadband internet access markets, to include its parent company Deutsche Telekom. On 8 April 2009, the Commission opened proceedings to investigate whether Slovak Telekom's behaviour could prevent or hinder competition in broadband internet access and other electronic communications markets in Slovakia (see MEMO/09/203). The extension of the proceedings to Deutsche Telekom is to establish whether Deutsche Telekom may have been involved in one or more of the suspected infringements or may be held liable for one or more of them.

In the course of its antitrust investigation, the Commission has gathered evidence about the relationship between Slovak Telekom and its parent company. On this basis, the Commission will assess the degree of involvement of Deutsche Telekom in the activities of its Slovak subsidiary.

The opening of proceedings does not imply that the Commission has conclusive proof of an infringement but merely means that the Commission will investigate the case as a matter of priority.

There is no legal deadline to complete inquiries into anticompetitive conduct. Their duration depends on a number of factors, including the complexity of each case, the extent to which the undertakings concerned co-operate with the Commission and the exercise of the rights of defence.

What is the legal basis for the decision?

The legal basis for this procedural step is Article 11(6) of the EU antitrust Regulation (Council Regulation No 1/2003) and Article 2(1) of its implementing Regulation (Commission Regulation No 773/2004).

Article 11(6) of Regulation No 1/2003 provides that the initiation of proceedings relieves the competition authorities of the Member States of their authority to apply EU rules on restrictive business practices and on abuse of a dominant market position (Articles 101 and 102 respectively of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union) to the practices under investigation by the Commission. Moreover, Article 16(1) of the same Regulation provides that national courts must avoid giving decisions which would conflict with a decision contemplated by the Commission in proceedings that it has initiated.

Article 2 of Regulation No 773/2004 provides that the Commission can initiate proceedings with a view to adopting a decision on substance according to Articles 7-10 of Regulation No 1/2003 at any point in time before issuing a statement of objections.

The Commission may also make public the initiation of proceedings in any appropriate way. Before doing so, it has to inform the parties concerned.

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