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85.

Key policy areas addressed within the ECN included the ability of NCAs, in their application of Articles 81 and 82 EC, to disapply anti-competitive State measures (following the CIF ruling122 by the European Court of Justice).

86.

2007 saw the continuation of the convergence process observed in the context of Regulation 1/2003. Over and above legal obligations arising from implementation of the Regulation, there is a trend towards greater approximation of national procedural laws and policies.

87.

A prime example of this trend towards further convergence is the ECN Model Leniency Programme123. The Programme, which was developed within the ECN working group on leniency during 2006, has already achieved very encouraging results in the first year following its endorsement.

88.

Another example is that a large number of NCAs now have the power to adopt commitment decisions in line with Article 9 of Regulation 1/2003. As a consequence, a significant increase in such decisions could be observed in 2007 among the decisions communicated to the Commission on the basis of Article 11(4) of Regulation 1/2003 (29 commitment decisions in 2007 as compared to 7 in 2006).

89.

The Commission was informed under Article 11(3) of Regulation 1/2003 of around 140 new case investigations launched by NCAs124. Clusters of cases could be observed inter alia in the energy, food and media sectors. The Commission services reviewed or advised on a very significant number of cases originating from NCAs, following up on information provided under Article 11(4) or upon informal request. To date, the Commission has not made use of the possibility of relieving an NCA of its competence in a given case by initiating proceedings under Article 11(6).

90.

By virtue of Article 15(1) of Regulation 1/2003 which allows national judges to ask the Commission for information in its possession or for an opinion on questions concerning the application of the EU competition rules, the Commission issued three Opinions to national judges: two in reply to requests from Swedish courts and one to a Spanish court.

91.

Article 15(2) of Regulation 1/2003 requires the EU Member States to forward to the Commission a copy of any written judgment issued by national courts deciding on the application of Articles 81 or 82 EC. The Commission received copies of some 50 judgments handed down in 2007, which were posted on DG Competition’s website125.

92.

Article 15(3) of Regulation 1/2003 provides that where the coherent application of Articles 81 or 82 EC so requires, the Commission, acting on its own initiative, may submit written observations to courts of the Member States, and may also make

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Case C-198/01, Consorzio Industrie Fiammiferi (CIF) and Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato [2003] ECR I-8055. The ECN Model Programme is available at http://ec.europa.eu/comm/competition/ecn/index_en.html together with a list of frequently asked questions (MEMO/06/356). Approximately 45% concerned application of Article 81 EC, 31.5% concerned application of Article 82 EC and 23.5% concerned application of both Articles 81 and 82 EC. http://ec.europa.eu/comm/competition/elojade/antitrust/nationalcourts/

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