Competing fairly - Italy
The Competition and Market Law (Law 287/90) regulates competition and aims to prevent:
- anti-competitive agreements;
- abuse of dominant market positions;
- mergers and acquisitions which strengthen or lead to a dominant position.
In 2007, two legislative decrees (145/2007 and 146/2007) came into force increasing the competencies and powers of the Authority in the areas of misleading advertising and improper commercial practices.
National competition authority
The national competition and market authority, also known as the Antitrust Authority, is an independent authority created in 1990.
The term 'independent authority' refers to any public body which makes its own decisions based on the law, without the possibility of interference from the government or other politically representative bodies.
It has competencies in the areas of improper commercial practices and misleading and comparative advertising and conflicts of interest.
Any agreement between companies which leads, even only potentially, to a consistent restriction of competition in the national market or a relevant part of it is forbidden.
Along with formal agreements between businesses (agreed practices), the law also views other activities in which operators voluntarily agree to regulate their own market behaviour (collusion and cartels) as restrictive practices.
Within three months of notifying the start of proceedings, the companies involved may propose action to eliminate the anti-competitive elements being investigated (obligations).
After assessing its effectiveness, the Authority may make this action compulsory and then close the proceedings, with no infringement reported. In the event of failure to comply with commitments, the Authority may impose a fine of up to 10% of turnover.
Abuse of dominant position
A company has a dominant position when it can act largely independently of its competitors and consumers.
The law does not prohibit dominant positions as such, but imposes limitations: abuse of a dominant position within the Italian market or a relevant part of it by one or more companies is forbidden.
As with restrictive practices, in cases of abuse of dominant positions, companies may present commitments to reduce the anti-competitive behaviour addressed by the proceedings within three months of notification of the start of these proceedings.
Other competencies of the Authority
On its own initiative or at the request of public bodies, the Authority can begin investigations of a general nature in a market or sector of it where there is a suspicion of barriers to competition.
The authority has the power to report to the government, parliament or government agencies in cases where the legal provisions already in effect or in the process of being formed would create restrictions to competition which are not justified in the public interest.
Strict provisions govern company mergers
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