European Commission - Press release
Antitrust: Commission investigates possible foreclosure of competitors from Austrian markets for management of packaging waste
Brussels, 15 July 2011 - The European Commission has opened formal antitrust proceedings because of concerns that the Austrian waste management company ARA may hinder its competitors to enter or expand their positions on the markets for the management of household and commercial packaging waste, in breach of EU Treaty rules prohibiting abusive practices (Article 102).
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.
The market concerned covers the organisation of the collection, sorting and recycling of packaging waste including paper, plastic and other materials. ARA is the leading Austrian waste management company. Waste management companies are service companies paid by producers of packaged goods for relieving them of the obligation to take care of the collection and recycling of the packaging waste they produce.
The investigation will focus on whether ARA may have abused its dominant position in the market, in particular by hindering access to its collection infrastructure, which is necessary to operate in the market, and by putting pressure on customers and collection service providers not to contract with ARA's competitors. If established, such behaviour could lead to higher waste management costs and consequently higher prices for packaged goods.
There is no legal deadline to complete inquiries into anticompetitive conduct. Their duration depend 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. The Commission carried out inspections at the premises of ARA, in Austria, in 2010.
What is the legal base for the decision?
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 company concerned and the competition authorities of the Member States that is has opened proceedings in this case.
Amelia Torres (+32 2 295 46 29)
Marisa Gonzalez Iglesias (+32 2 295 19 25)