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European Commission - Press release

Antitrust: Commission opens formal proceedings against Czech electricity incumbent CEZ

Brussels,15 July - The European Commission has opened formal anti-trust proceedings to investigate whether CEZ a.s., the incumbent electricity producer in the Czech Republic, may have abused its dominant position on the Czech electricity market, in particular by hindering the entry of competitors, in breach of EU antitrust rules (Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union). An opening of formal proceedings does not imply that the Commission has proof of an infringement, but merely means that it will investigate the case as a matter of priority.

In November 2009, the Commission carried out inspections on the premises of CEZ and other companies (see MEMO/09/518).

The Commission has concerns that CEZ's behaviour, in particular the hoarding of capacity in the transmission network, may have resulted in preventing the entry of competitors into the Czech wholesale electricity market.

There is no legal deadline to complete inquiries into anticompetitive conducts. 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.

This is not the first time that the Commission has had to deal with allegations of an abuse of dominant position in the energy sector. There have been many decisions in the gas and electricity sector in recent years, for example concerning E.ON on the German electricity wholesale and balancing markets ( see IP/08/1774), EDF on the French retail market (IP/10/290) or the Swedish transmission system operator Svenska Kraftnät (IP/10/425).

Background

The legal base of this procedural step is Article 11(6) of the Antitrust Regulation (Council Regulation No 1/2003).

Article 11(6) of the Antitrust Regulation relieves the competition authorities of the Member States of their authority to apply EU competition rules once the Commission has initiated proceedings. Article 16(1) provides that national courts must avoid giving decisions which would conflict with a decision contemplated by the Commission in proceedings that it has initiated.

The Commission informed the parties concerned and the competition authorities of the Member States that it has opened proceedings in this case.

Contacts :

Amelia Torres (+32 2 295 46 29)

Marisa Gonzalez Iglesias (+32 2 295 19 25)


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