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Brussels, 17 May 2011
Antitrust: Commission confirms unannounced inspections in the container liner shipping sector
The European Commission can confirm that on the 17th of May 2011 Commission officials undertook unannounced inspections at the premises of companies active in the container liner shipping in several Member States. The Commission has reason to believe that the companies concerned may have violated the antitrust rules that prohibit cartels and restrictive business practices and/or abuse of a dominant market position (Articles 101 and 102 respectively of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union).
The Commission officials were accompanied by their counterparts from the relevant national competition authorities.
Unannounced inspections are a preliminary step into suspected anticompetitive practices. The fact that the Commission carries out such inspections does not mean that the companies are guilty of anti-competitive behaviour nor does it prejudge the outcome of the investigation itself. The Commission respects the rights of defence, in particular the right of companies to be heard in antitrust proceedings.
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.