ANTITRUST ENFORCEMENT - CRIMINALIZATION - IMPRISONMENT - EU HARMONIZATION

Is criminalization of EU competition law the answer ?

This paper address the following five questions : First, what do we mean by “criminalization”, or “criminal” enforcement (as opposed to public enforcement of a “civil” or “administrative” nature) ? Second, is there a tendency in the EU Member States to criminalize antitrust enforcement (in comparison with US antitrust enforcement and with antitrust enforcement at the level of the EU institutions) ? Third, is criminal antitrust enforcement, more specifically imprisonment, desirable (in general, irrespective of whether it takes places at the level of the Member States or of the EU institutions, or whether it is harmonized at EU level) ? Fourth, is it problematic that antitrust enforcement is criminalized at the level of individual EU Member States without parallel criminalization at the level of the EU institutions or without EU harmonization ? Fifth, would it be legally possible to criminalize antitrust enforcement at the level of the EU institutions, or to have EU harmonization of criminal antitrust enforcement in the Member States ?

I. What do we mean by « criminalization » ? 1. No definition of « criminal » in EC or EU law 1. Article 23(5) of Regulation No 1/2003, [1] the main regulation governing the enforcement of Articles 81 and 82 EC, provides that decisions by which the European Commission imposes fines on undertakings for violations of Articles 81 and 82 EC, or for obstruction of investigations into possible violations, « shall not be of a criminal law nature ». [2] The last sentence of recital 8 of the same Regulation says that « this Regulation does not apply to national laws which impose criminal sanctions on natural persons except to the extent that such sanctions are the means whereby competition rules applicable to undertakings are enforced ». [3] 2. The EU Treaty has a Title VI concerning « Provisions on

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Auteur

  • King’s College (London)

Citation

Wouter Wils, Is criminalization of EU competition law the answer ?, février 2006, Concurrences N° 1-2006, Art. N° 34928, www.concurrences.com

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