Anna Vernet (Head of Unit, ECN & Private Enforcement, DG COMP)
Since the decentralisation of EU competition law enforcement in 2004, the European Commission acts as co-enforcer of the competition rules together with NCAs. NCAs are responsible for the majority of EU competition enforcement at EU level (over 85%). However, the last decade has shown that decentralisation is not enough and that NCAs need to be empowered so that they become more efficient and effective enforcers. This is the key finding from the Commission’s public consultation: 80% of stakeholders encouraged legislative action to empower NCAs.
As a result, the draft Directive aims to provide minimum guarantees in the enforcement of competition rules and create a genuine common competition enforcement area within the single market.
The first pillar of the draft Directive is independence and sufficiency of resources. The key problem that the draft Directive aims to tackle is the lack of independence of NCAs from political or outside influences. Effective enforcement requires sufficient resources, and a number of authorities – especially if they are small – do not have the sufficient resources to be effective enforcers. The draft Directive proposes to give a basic guarantee ensuring that NCAs have the necessary means in terms of human, financial and technical resources to perform their core functions.