Competition Law


European Commission Entry barriers

Barriers to entry are factors which prevent or hinder companies from entering a specific market. Entry barriers may result for instance from a particular market structure (e.g. sunk cost industry, brand loyalty of consumers to existing products) or the behaviour of incumbent firms. It is (...)

European Commission Hearing

Opportunity for parties, to whom the Commission has addressed objections for violation of EC competition law, to make their views known. In order to respect the parties’ right to be heard, the Commission must in its final decisions only deal with objections on which the parties were afforded the (...)

European Commission Negative clearance

When the Commission, on the basis of the facts presented to it, comes to the conclusion that there are no grounds under Article 101(1) or 102 TFEU to take action in respect of an agreement or practice, the Commission issues a negative clearance either as a formal decision or informally by way (...)

European Commission Periodic penalty payment

The Commission may by decision impose periodic penalty payments in order to compel an undertaking to stop an infringement of competition rules in accordance with an earlier decision. In such a case, a daily amount is fixed which has to be paid for every day the infringement continues after the (...)

European Commission ESA

ESA stands for EFTA Surveillance Authority. The Authority was established under an agreement between the EFTA states, which contains basic provisions on the Authority’s organisation and lays down its tasks and competencies. The task of the ESA is to ensure, together with the European Commission, (...)

European Commission Antitrust

Field of competition law and policy. In the EU context, both the rules governing anti-competitive agreements and practices (cartels and other forms of collusion) based on Article 101 TFEU and the rules prohibiting abuses of (existing) dominant positions based on Article 102 TFEU are commonly (...)

European Commission Fine

A monetary penalty imposed by a Commission decision on an see definition forundertaking for a violation of EC see definition forcompetition rules.See in particular: Article 15 of Regulation No 17 and Article 14 Merger Regulation © European (...)

European Commission Vertical agreement

Agreement or concerted Practice entered into between two or more undertakings each of which operates, for the purposes of the agreement, at a different level of the production or distribution chain, and relating to the conditions under which the parties may purchase, sell or resell certain (...)

European Commission Horizontal agreement

Arrangement between actual or see definition forpotential competitors, i.e. undertakings operating at the same level of the production or distribution chain, covering for example research and development, production, purchasing or commercialisation. Horizontal agreements may restrict (...)

European Commission Specialisation agreement

Agreement between undertakings relating to the conditions under which they specialise in the production of a narrow or specific range of goods and/or services. Agreements on specialisation can contribute to improving the production or distribution of goods, because the undertakings concerned (...)

European Commission R&D agreement

Agreement between firms to jointly undertake research and development (R&D) activities, in order to pool see definition forknow-how and to share the costs and risks of inventing new products. An R&D agreement normally covers the acquisition of know-how relating to products or processes (...)

European Commission Access to the Commission’s file

Right of natural or legal persons who are parties to a Commission investigation to see the Commission’s file, whenever the Commission proposes to adopt a decision which would be unfavourable to those parties. Access is given in the course of the administrative procedure to all the documents of (...)

European Commission Abuse of a dominant position

Anti-competitive business practices (including improper exploitation of customers or exclusion of competitors) in which a dominant firm may engage in order to maintain or increase its position on the market. Competition Law prohibits such behaviour, as it damages true competition between firms, (...)

Competition law Home page

This section offers 6 added-value competition law ressources in free access: "NEW: Merger Remedies Matrix": 600 merger remedies to get the deal through "Antitrust Encyclopedia": 3300 articles on 30 national competition regimes and policies in Europe "Antitrust Bookmark": 500 selected (...)

What is the Competition Glossary?

This Glossary was prepared by DG COMP and serves as an orientation for non specialists in competition matters. It has no legal value whatsoever and does not bind the Commission in any way (European Union, 2003). You will find below each article references of national case laws from the (...)

European Commission Hearing officer

Independent senior official who is charged with organising hearings and with ensuring that they are properly conducted. The Hearing Officer thus contributes to the objectivity of the hearing itself, the observance of due process, the respect of the parties’ rights of defence and the objectivity (...)

European Commission Divestiture

Decision by a firm to sell part of its current operations, divisions or subsidiaries as a result of business restructuring in order to concentrate on certain products or markets. Under EU competition law, divestiture may also be offered by firms as a commitment to the Commission in order to (...)

European Commission Foreclosure

Strategic behaviour by a firm or group of firms to restrict market access possibilities of potential competitors either upstream or downstream. Foreclosure can take different forms, from absolute refusal to deal to more subtle forms of discrimination such as the degradation of the quality of (...)

European Commission Passive sales

Sales in response to unsolicited requests from individual customers including delivery of goods or services to such customers. Sales generated by general advertising or promotion in media or on the Internet that reaches customers in other distributors’ exclusive territories or customer groups, (...)

European Commission Tying or tied selling

Commercial practice of conditioning the sale of one product on the purchase of another product. If tying is not objectively justified by the nature of the products or their commercial usage, such practice may restrict competition. Economic theory suggests that a firm which enjoys market power (...)

European Commission Active sales

Sales made by actively approaching individual customers inside another distributor’s exclusive territory or exclusive customer group by for instance direct mail or visits, or by actively approaching a specific customer group or customers in a specific territory allocated exclusively to another (...)

European Commission Effects doctrine

According to this doctrine, domestic competition laws are applicable to foreign firms - but also to domestic firms located outside the state’s territory, when their behaviour or transactions produce an "effect" within the domestic territory. The "nationality" of firms is irrelevant for the (...)

European Commission Substitutability

Measure of the extent to which products may be seen as interchangeable from the viewpoint of producers or consumers. A firm’s pricing policy for a specific product is disciplined if consumers have the possibility to buy another product, which they judge as being equivalent by its nature, use (...)

European Commission Collecting society

Association, which collects payments made by users of intellectual property rights for the holders of such rights. For instance, a radio station, playing a record for which a record company holds a copyright, has to pay a fee to a collecting society, which then transfers the payments to the (...)

European Commission Turnover threshold

The combined annual turnover of the parties is used in the field of merger control as a criterion to divide competence between Member States and the Commission. concentrations where the parties’ combined turnover exceeds the thresholds set in Article 1 of the Merger Regulation are considered to (...)

European Commission Services of general economic interest

Services of an economic nature, the provision of which can be considered to be in the general interest. For example: basic, publicly accessible supply of energy, telecommunication, postal services, transport, water and waste disposal services. The Member States are primarily responsible for (...)

European Commission Know-how

Specific knowledge held by an individual or a company on a product or production process, often obtained through extensive and costly research and development (R&D). Under the EU competition rules know-how is normally deemed to be a body of technical information that is secret, substantial (...)

European Commission Withdrawal (of the benefit of a block exemption)

Possibility for the Commission (or in certain cases for the national competition authorities) to withdraw the benefit of exemption from the prohibition of Article 101(1) TFEU granted to an agreement by a block exemption regulation. The Commission may withdraw the benefit of a block exemption if (...)

European Commission Hard core restrictions

Refers to restrictions of competition by agreements or business practices, which are seen by most jurisdictions as being particularly serious and normally do not produce any beneficial effects. They therefore almost always infringe competition law. Under EU law, the most prominent examples on (...)

European Commission Ancillary restraints

Restrictions on the parties to an agreement (including an agreement to form a concentration), which do not constitute the primary object of the agreement, but are directly related to and necessary for the proper functioning of the objectives envisaged by agreement. In the field of co-operation (...)

European Commission International Competition Network (ICN)

A project-oriented, consensus-based, informal network of antitrust agencies from developed and developing countries. The ICN serves to share experiences and exchange views on competition issues deriving from an ever-increasing globalisation of the world economy, as well as to encourage the (...)

European Commission Enabling regulation

Legislative act by which the Council empowers the Commission to adopt secondary EU legislation (in the form of regulations or directives) such as for example block exemption regulations or implementing regulations. © Commission (...)

European Commission Implementing regulation

Legislative act by the Commission, based on an enabling regulation by the Council, which specifies Community law provisions. Examples of such secondary legislation adopted by the Commission in the area of competition law are Commission Regulation (EC) No 802/2004 implementing Council (...)

European Commission Absolute territorial protection

Practice by manufacturers or suppliers relating to the resale of their products and leading to a separation of markets or territories. Under absolute territorial protection, a single distributor obtains the rights from a manufacturer to market a product in a certain territory and other (...)

European Commission Compliance programme

A company’s internal policy established to ensure its complete compliance with competition rules in all its business actions. In a compliance programme the company trains its personnel on competition rules and provides them with guidance on how to avoid agreements or practices which restrict (...)

European Commission Merger control procedure

The merger control procedure under EU law is laid down in the Merger Regulation (which was amended once) and in the implementing regulation. The Merger Regulation confers to the Commission the sole authority to assess concentrations with a Community dimension. Concentrations which meet the (...)

European Commission Infringement proceeding

An infringement proceeding is an action against a Member State, which fails to fulfil an obligation under the TFEU or under secondary EU legislation. The proceeding is led by the Commission on its own initiative or at the request of another Member State. Individuals do not have the possibility (...)

European Commission Resale price maintenance (RPM)

Agreements or concerted Practices between a supplier and a dealer with the object of directly or indirectly establishing a fixed or minimum price or price level to be observed by the dealer when reselling a product/service to his customers. A provision which foresees resale price maintenance (...)

European Commission Predatory pricing

A (deliberate) strategy, usually by a dominant firm, of driving competitors out of the market by setting prices below production costs. If the predator succeeds in driving existing competitors out of the market and in deterring future entry of new firms, he can subsequently raise prices and (...)

European Commission Exclusionary practice

Practice by a dominant company that tends to impair the opportunities of competitors based on considerations other than competition on the merits. An example would be the decision by a company dominant on the market for production of a certain good not to supply a client, because he is a (...)

European Commission Concerted Practice

Co-ordination between undertakings which, without having reached the stage of concluding a formal agreement, have knowingly substituted practical co-operation for the risks of competition. A concerted practice can be constituted by direct or indirect contact between firms whose intention or (...)

European Commission Market power

Strength of a firm on a particular market. In basic economic terms, market power is the ability of firms to price above marginal cost and for this to be profitable. In competition analysis, market power is determined with the help of a structural analysis of the market, notably the calculation (...)

European Commission Buyer power

Ability of one or more buyers, based on their economic importance on the market in question, to obtain favourable purchasing terms from their suppliers. Buyer power is an important aspect in competition analysis, since powerful buyers may discipline the pricing policy of powerful sellers, thus (...)

European Commission Dominant position

A firm is in a dominant position if it has the ability to behave independently of its competitors, customers, suppliers and, ultimately, the final consumer. A dominant firm holding such market power would have the ability to set prices above the competitive level to sell products of an inferior (...)

European Commission Complaint

Request by a natural or legal person who claims a legitimate interest asking the Commission to investigate an alleged infringement of EU competition law and to bring it to an end. Formal complaints oblige the Commission to act (either to find that there is an infringement or to reject the (...)

European Commission Market share

Measure for the relative size of a firm in an industry or market, in terms of the proportion of total output, sales or capacity it accounts for. In addition to profits, one of the frequently cited business objectives of firms is to increase market share. This is because market share, economies (...)