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Brussels, 18th June 1999

The European Union and Canada sign a Competition Cooperation Agreement

The European Union and Canada have signed an agreement providing for enhanced cooperation between the European Commission and the Canadian Competition Bureau with respect to competition law enforcement.The increasing globalisation of many sectors of the economy has resulted in a large increase in the number of competition cases being examined by both the European and the Canadian competition authorities. The agreement is designed to build on, and strengthen, the cooperation which already takes place between the European Union and Canada in competition matters.

"We look forward with enthusiasm to a new era of enhanced Euro-Canadian cooperation in facing the many challenges which lie ahead of us both", said Mr. Karel Van Miert, Commissioner responsibile for competition policy.

By providing a concrete framework for cooperation between the European Commission and the Canadian Competition Bureau, the agreement should increase the effectiveness of enforcement by both authorities, and reduce the risk of the competition authorities reaching conflicting or incompatible decisions in individual cases. The agreement is expected, in particular, to facilitate closer cooperation in combatting global cartels, which can be so harmful to the interests of both Canadian and European consumers, and to ensure enhanced coordination in the control of proposed mergers requiring clearance in both jurisdictions.

In substance, the cooperation agreement is very similar to the one already in place between the EU and US. It provides for reciprocal notification by one authority of a case under its investigation which affects the other's important interests, and for the exchange of non-confidential information. Under the agreement, the EU or Canada may request enforcement action to be taken against anti-competitive behaviour which is harming its industry or consumers, but which is taking place in the other's territory. Each authority is also required to take into account the other's important interests in the course of its enforcement activities. The agreement further provides for the possibility of the two authorities coordinating their enforcement activities, as well as of rendering assistance to each other.

The agreement is the product of negotiations between the Commission and the Canadian government which commenced in 1995 and resulted in a draft agreement being initialled in June 1998. The draft agreement was subsequently approved by the European Parliament in February 1999, and by the European Council in April 1999. It entered into force upon signature.

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