Chapter 7: Modernisation of EC Antitrust Enforcement
7. Modernisation of EC antitrust enforcement Alexander H. Türk INTRODUCTION The European Community wields considerable power to regulate the behaviour of private parties in order to achieve undistorted competition in the Internal Market. Article 81 ECT prohibits anticompetitive collusion between undertakings, while Article 82 ECT prohibits the abuse of a dominant position. Both provisions were initially made operative through Regulation 17/62.1 Even though national courts and national competition authorities could enforce Articles 81(1) and 82 ECT, they were not allowed to apply Article 81(3) ECT, as the Commission had a monopoly to grant individual exemptions under that provision. This rather centralised form of administration left the Commission in overall control of the enforcement of the competition rules. However, the Commission was soon buried under a huge amount of applications for individual exemptions,2 which due to lack of resources it was in no position to reduce by way of individual decisions. A number of devices were employed to alleviate the strain on the Commission, such as block exemptions, in which the Commission on the basis of authorisation by the Council provided by way of regulations exemptions under Article 81(3) ECT for entire categories of agreements. Even though national authorities could also apply these block exemptions, their contribution to the enforcement of EC antitrust rules remained – despite encouragement from the Commission – rather limited. Since 1 May 2004 the centralised enforcement regime under Regulation 17/62 has been opened up by Regulation 1/2003,3 which allows Articles 81 and...
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