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Netherlands

Competing fairly

Updated 07/2009

Legal requirements

The Competitive Trading Act encourages businesses by strengthening competition.

Anti-trust

             Anti-competitive   practices are not allowed and neither is abuse of a dominant position. Mergers, takeovers, certain types of venture, etc. with a combined turnover above a specific threshold are concerned in this regard.

Agreements

The Dutch Competition Act              prohibits cartels. A cartel   is an agreement between businesses that impairs, limits or rigs competition. Within a cartel, competitors agree on e.g. price, market distribution, or the boycotting of certain suppliers or clients.

Arrangements between suppliers and clients, e.g. fixing the retail price for the consumer, rank as cartel agreements.

Abuse of dominant position

The Competition Act forbids businesses from abusing a dominant position. A business can be said to have attained a dominant position if it can act independently of competitors and clients. Abuse includes:

  •  offering products at below cost price in order to ward off newcomers;
  •  tie-in sales: selling entirely disparate products as part of a package;
  •  charging excessive prices for products.

Consumer protection

The Dutch Consumer Authority promotes fair trade between businesses and consumers, taking the economic interest of consumers as its starting point. A consumer aggrieved about an unfair trading practice can report it to the consumer rights body, ConsuWijzer.

National competition authorities

The Dutch Competition Authority (NMa) is responsible for applying the Competitive Trading Act.

Strict provisions govern company mergers

Administrative procedures

Merger notification

An entrepreneur wishing to pursue a merger must notify this intention to the Dutch Competition Authority (NMa). This obligation depends on the total turnover of both companies.

Within four weeks, the authority reports back on whether a licence is required for the merger. If no licence is required, the merger can begin. In other cases, a licence application must be submitted. 

Litigation

If a business is suspected of breaching the Competition Act, it can be reported to the Dutch Competition Authority (NMa).

Help & advice

Help & advice

The Netherlands Competition Authority can be contacted for information and advice on the various dos and don'ts relating to competition.

E-mail a business organisation near you

The EU runs a network (Enterprise Europe Network) of local business organisations in most European countries that may be able to help you.

Choose your country and town and enter your enquiry below.

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