ARTICLES: EU – PROCEDURE – INTERIM RELIEF

Interim relief in EU competition law: A matter of relevance

Infringement or commitment decision are regularly used by EU jurisdictions to remedy a competition infringement. However, interim measures could sometimes offer a better solution. The Google case is a good example where the possibility of ordering interim measures to remedy the presumptively anti-competitive practices pending a final decision was apparently never considered. This situation raises few questions the author tries to answer. First, the author provides a brief overview of the tools available to remedy competition infringements under EU law as well as the practice of the European Commission and some national competition authorities regarding interim relief; then, the constraints the Commission bears when it comes to imposing interim relief will be discussed, as they emerge from the judgement of the European Courts. Finally, the author offers some thoughts on the current practice and suggestions to encourage recourse to interim measures in appropriate cases.

I. Introduction 1. One of the merits of the Google case is that it is triggering useful discussion about some features of the EU competition enforcement process, such as the limitations of commitments (vs infringement) decisions for setting legal precedents and developing competition law, [1] the shortcomings of the commitments negotiation process regarding consultation of interested third-parties, [2] and the relationship between competition law enforcement and regulatory initiatives in matters affecting directly broad, non-competition policy issues such as access to information. [3] , [4] Among the many questions raised by the proceedings in the Google case, one relates to interim measures: it is quite puzzling that throughout the multi-year, unsuccessful negotiations of remedies,

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  • Microsoft (Brussels)

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Jean-Yves Art, Interim relief in EU competition law: A matter of relevance, September 2016, Concurrences Review Nº 3-2016, Art. N° 80361, www.concurrences.com

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