European Competition Law Annual 2006 - Robert Schuman Center for Advanced Studies, European University Institute, 2007, 694 p.

Enforcement of Prohibition of cartels,

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In recent years, the fight against cartels, particularly damaging anti-competitive practices, has become the priority of competition authorities in Europe and North America. The eleventh annual conference on Community competition law and policy, organised by the Robert Schuman Centre of the European University Institute (Florence), was devoted to the implementation of the prohibition of cartels. This book brings together the written contributions submitted by the participants, as well as the record of the oral debates. The modernization of Community competition law on the prohibition of cartels and its consequences - in particular the abolition of the Commission’s monopoly on the application of Article 81(3) of the EC Treaty, the introduction of leniency programmes, the establishment of the European Competition Network (ECN) - raised new questions. The legal and economic issues discussed focused on three main themes: the detection of cartels, the institutional framework for the fight against cartels, and the instruments for combating cartels.

With regard to the detection of cartels, the structural and behavioural factors that contribute to their formation and stability are analysed, as well as the methods for inferring the presence of a cartel from market observation, thus making it possible to determine which sectors should be investigated as a priority. In addition, sector inquiries are complementary to leniency, which plays a key role in the detection of such practices. The conditions for the effectiveness of these programmes are studied, as well as the possibility of rewarding cartel informants. The issue of the investigative powers of competition authorities is being studied in greater depth, and there is a need to increase international cooperation in this area. The book also examines the advisability of introducing out-of-court settlement procedures, the improvement of the conditions for awarding damages for compensation in European countries (a theme now revived by the Commission in its White Paper of April 2008), the optimal combination of private and public action, and the effectiveness of criminal sanctions, which are making progress in some European countries. Finally, the optimal level of fines and their dissuasive power are discussed.

This rich and comprehensive work provides an overview of all the important topics relating to the implementation of the prohibition of cartels. Discussions on improving leniency programmes and clarifying the calculation of fines in the European Union are somewhat outdated, as the conference took place before the publication of the 2006 Leniency Notice and Fining Guidelines. Nevertheless, the book addresses most of the current issues and analyses the prospects for envisaged reforms, such as the desirability of compensating cartel informants, the question of settlements and out-of-court settlements, the desirability of promoting private action and the strengthening of criminal sanctions. The participants - members of competition authorities and the European Commission, internationally renowned academics and practitioners - come from many European countries, the United States and Canada, which gives this study a particularly useful comparative dimension. For example, the experiences of Canada (with respect to investigative powers), the United States (with respect to private actions) and the United Kingdom (sector studies) are detailed. Finally, particular attention is paid to the European Union’s policy on combating cartels.

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Constance Monnier-Schlumberger, Enforcement of Prohibition of cartels,
, May 2008, Concurrences N° 2-2008, Art. N° 16965, p. 203

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