Reporting anti-competitive behaviour
How to report anti-competitive behaviour?
If you come across business practices that might restrict competition, you can report them. If the situation is specific and limited to the country or area where you live, or involves no more than 3 other EU countries, start by contacting your national competition authority.
National competition authority:
Still have questions?
If you are unsure about the problem, you can contact the European Commission at: email@example.com or write to:
European Commission, Directorate General for Competition
B-1049 Brussels, Belgium
If you think your company is involved in a cartel or other activity restricting competition, you should know that the first company to submit evidence of a cartel may receive total immunity from fines! (see the leniency programme).
Initial contact with the European Commission should be made by fax to +32 2 2994585 or by telephone to +32 2 2984190 or +32 2 2984191.
You can make a claim for compensation if you can prove that your business has overpaid or suffered a loss of revenue due to actions by a cartel, or abuse of a dominant position in the market. There is a legal presumption that cartels cause harm.
How much time do you have to make a claim?
You have 5 years (since you first learnt about the infringement) to claim damages, or 1 year after a competition authority's decision on the infringement becomes final (in some cases, member states may give you more than 1 year).
National courts in EU countries can order firms to disclose relevant evidence when victims claim compensation. If your firm has to disclose evidence, any confidential business information given in connection to the case will be protected.
Cross-border proof of infringement
When national competition authorities make final decisions on infringements, these can be presented as evidence before the national courts of other EU countries. This strengthens your argument when you claim damages.
Passing-on of overcharges
Even if you are an indirect customer of an infringer, you can claim compensation for any overcharge that has been passed on to you by an infringer's direct customer, e.g. a reseller of the cartelised goods.
Although you must demonstrate the amount of harm your business suffered in this way, you are helped by the legal presumption of passing-on.
An example of the passing-on of overcharges could be when a loss is passed on to others: the business makes a payment, and seeks a repayment - the business then passes this on as a liability to its customers.
All firms participating in a cartel or another anticompetitive agreement are liable for the entire damage. You, as the claimant, can choose who you want to sue for compensation.
A co-infringer can obtain a contribution from another co-infringer if they have paid more compensation than their relative share. That share and the criteria on which it is based will be decided by the court according to national law.
Companies of a certain size (starting at EUR 2.5 billion of combined aggregate worldwide turnover) doing business in the EU and wishing to merge must ask the European Commission for approval - irrespective of where their headquarters are located. Approval of the merger will depend on the market share that the merged company would have in the EU. Mergers between small businesses are not usually restricted.
The EU rules generally prohibit state aid (which take various forms such as grants, interest and tax relief, loan guarantees) because they risk putting certain businesses at an advantage over their competitors, thereby distorting competition.
State aid may be permitted in the following cases:
- help for small businesses
- promoting entrepreneurship
- research, development and innovation
- regional development
- risk capital
- job creation
- protecting the environment.
The European Commission monitors this kind of support. If you are aware of state aid that infringes the rules, you can report it online.