European Competition Network should be improved, says Noerr study which examines the enforcement of European competition law in the Member States
In a study for the European Parliament on the effective enforcement of European competition law in the Member States Noerr experts have identified room for improvement. They recommend better communication and coordination between national competition authorities and the European Commission in the European Competition Network (ECN).
In November 2015, the European Commission started a public consultation on how to empower national competition authorities to be more effective enforcers of EU competition law. A regularly voiced perception is that the current legal framework risks an inconsistent enforcement of EU competition law in different Member States depending on the enforcement tools and capabilities of the respective national competition authority. On 19 April 2016, the Committee of Economic and Monetary Affairs of the European Parliament (ECON) and the Directorate General Competition of the European Commission organized a Public Hearing to prepare the path for potential legislative measures.
To prepare the Members of the European Parliament and other stakeholders with background information and a practitioner’s view, the European Parliament selected a Noerr team for a detailed study (available for download here). The study assesses the current enforcement of a unified EU law with national enforcement tool boxes. It was found that even with the harmonization effort from the current ECN recommendations, the national investigative measures vary substantially and result in sometimes inconsistent outcomes. The recommendation for a level playing field in Europe was - even in light of various institutional setups and investigative tools – a further improvement and clarification of the ECN’s role.
During the Public Hearing, EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager presented the preliminary findings of a stakeholder survey conducted by the European Commission as part of the consultation process. She also stressed the importance of citizens being able to trust their respective competition authority to watch the market effectively and ensure a level playing field for competition. The lively debates and various comments by Members of the Parliament suggested, however, that the views on how to improve enforcement still differ significantly. Frédéric Jenny, Chairman of the OECD Competition Law and Policy Committee, pointed out that there might just not be a one-size-fits-all solution, and Mr. Laitenberger, Director General of DG Competition, stressed the principle of subsidiarity.
Noerr team: Alexander Israel, Jan Lang, Dr. Fabian Hübener, Georgios Malos, Rea Diamantatou, Vanja Ferlez, Giovanna Ventura (Brussels); Pavol Rak, Martin Stelcl (Bratislava); Rusandra Sandu, Luiza Bedros (Bucharest); Ákos Bajorfi, Tímea Tompa (Budapest); Miloš Temel (Prag) Marta Borowska, Arkadiusz Ruminski (Warsaw)
Any questions? Please contact: Alexander Israel, Jan Lang or Fabian Hübener
Practice Group: Antitrust & Competition