The European Commission can confirm that on 7 March 2017 its officials carried out unannounced inspections at the premises of several companies active in the sector of kraft paper and industrial paper sacks.
The inspections took place in several Member States. The Commission has concerns that the relevant companies may have violated Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which prohibits anticompetitive practices such as price fixing and customer allocation.
These inspections are part of the same investigation that led the Commission to carry out unannounced inspections in March 2016 in the same sectors (see Memo).
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. 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 and the exercise of the rights of defence.