De minimis agreements: Should they be sanctionned?

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Etienne Pfister (Deputy Rapporteur General, Competition Authority)

The European Commission Notice on agreements of minor importance (so-called de minimis notice, 2001/C 368/07), published in 2001, quantifies, inter alia, by means of market share thresholds, what in the Commission’s view does not constitute an appreciable restriction of competition within the meaning of Article 81 of the EC Treaty, now Article 101 of the TFEU. In point 4 of that Notice, the Commission states that it ’will not initiate proceedings on request or on its own initiative in cases covered by this Notice’. It adds that ’where undertakings assume in good faith that an agreement is covered by this Notice, the Commission will not impose a fine’. The prosecution policy set out in the Notice is binding only on the European Commission itself and is not binding on the courts or even on national competition authorities. While remaining free to define their own enforcement policy, national competition authorities may nevertheless be guided by the guidance set out in the Notice.

Photos © Léo-Paul Ridet.

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