Brussels, 2 June 2010
Antitrust: Commission opens an investigation into alleged restrictions of competition between Areva and Siemens
The European Commission has opened proceedings to assess whether non-compete clauses between French company Areva and German company Siemens in the field of civil nuclear technology may be in violation of EU antitrust rules. The opening of proceedings means the case merits investigation. It does not prejudge the final outcome.
The European Commission has opened proceedings into non-compete clauses and other contractual restrictions between Areva and Siemens that may prevent competition in a certain number products within the sector of civil nuclear technology. The opening of proceedings is a procedural step that clarifies the allocation of cases between Member States and the European Commission within the European Competition Network (ECN).
At the beginning of the last decade, Areva and Siemens combined their respective activities in the field of civil nuclear technology in a joint venture, Areva NP.1 The non-compete clauses that are now being analysed by the Commission relate to the period after Areva took full control of the joint venture in 2009. The Commission will determine whether the non-compete clauses and the other contractual restrictions constitute a violation of the competition rules laid down in Articles 101 and 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and Articles 53 and 54 of the EEA Agreement.
The initiation of proceedings means that the case will be dealt with by the Commission and not by the competition authorities of the Member States, which is possible under to Article 11, paragraph 6, of Regulation 1/2003.
This procedural step does not imply that the Commission has conclusive proof of an infringement. It only means that the Commission will conduct an in-depth investigation of the case.
The duration of antitrust investigations 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 legitimate right of the parties to be heard and to have access to the file.
The proceedings were opened under Article 11(6) of Regulation 1/2003 (the antitrust regulation) and Article 2(1) of Regulation 773/2004 (the implementing regulation).
The creation of the joint venture was notified and cleared by the Commission. The subsequent acquisition of sole control over Areva NP by Areva was also cleared in 2009. See cases M.1940 and M.5481.