In 2007, competition policy continued to improve the functioning of markets for the benefit of European consumers and businesses. This entailed inter alia investigating and sanctioning anti-competitive behaviour by market participants as well as addressing anti-competitive market structures and regulation across key sectors of the economy. Competition policy was further embedded in the Commission’s overarching economic reform agenda — the Lisbon strategy.
The first section of this report provides an overview of how the instruments of competition policy, namely the antitrust, merger and State aid rules, were further developed and applied. The second section discusses how these and other instruments were deployed in selected sectors. The third section gives an overview of cooperation within the European Competition Network (ECN) and with national courts. Section four deals with international activities. Finally, in section five, a brief description of interinstitutional cooperation is given. Further information can be found in a detailed Commission Staff Working Document and on the website of the Competition Directorate-General1.
Antitrust — Articles 81 and 82 EC
Shaping the rules and policy
Apart from sanctions to punish and deter cartels, effective action against this most pernicious form of anti-competitive conduct requires incentives for participants to report cartels. The Commission’s leniency policy offers incentives to cartelists to report their illegal activities. December 2006 saw the introduction of a revised leniency Notice (the 2006 Notice)2. This is the third leniency Notice following earlier versions in 1996 and 2002. The Commission received 20 applications for immunity3 and 11 applications for a reduction of fines under the 2006 Notice from the date of its introduction to the end of 2007.
The Commission 2005 Green Paper on damages actions for breach of the EU antitrust rules received strong support in a European Parliament resolution calling on the Commission to prepare a White Paper with detailed proposals to ensure more effective antitrust damages claims4. When preparing the White Paper, the Commission had broad consultations with representatives of Member State governments, judges from national courts, representatives from industry, consumer associations, the legal community and many other stakeholders.
http://ec.europa.eu/comm/competition/index_en.html Commission Notice on immunity from fines and reduction of fines in cartel cases, OJ C 298, 8.12.2006, p. 17. Where several applications for immunity have been received for the same alleged infringement, the first application is regarded as an immunity application and the subsequent ones as applications for a reduction of fines unless the first application is rejected. European Parliament Resolution of 25 April 2007 on the Green Paper on damages actions for breach of the EC antitrust rules (2006/2207 (INI)), available at: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/oeil/file.jsp?id=5378362