Regulation 1/2003 brought about a radical change in the way in which the EU antitrust prohibitions contained in Articles 101 and 102 TFEU are enforced. The previous enforcement regime, under Regulation 17, which dated from 1962, was characterised by a centralised notification and authorisation system for Article 101(3) TFEU. Regulation 1/2003 abolished this system and replaced it by a system of ex post enforcement. The objectives of this reform were to allow the European Commission to become more active in the pursuit of serious infringements of Articles 101 and 102 TFEU, as well as to decentralise enforcement to the Member States’ competition authorities and to the national courts, while maintaining EU-wide consistency. This paper provides an overview of the genesis of Regulation 1/2003, its objectives, and its main results, as apparent twenty years later. It finds that the decentralisation to the national competition authorities, cooperating with the European Commission and each other in the European Competition Network, has been a major success, beyond expectations. On the other hand, it outlines the prediction that the reform would lead to a significant increase in the number of prohibition decisions adopted by the European Commission has turned out to be too optimistic.
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