A correct and effective implementation of the antitrust rules by the National Competition Authorities (NCAs) represents a key lever for the Commission to pursue its own competition policies. It has long been engaged in promoting such principles, and Regulation 1/2003, of December 16th 2002, has provided NCAs with important competences to apply the EU competition rules. Nonetheless, as the Commission itself happened to admit, the Regulation did not provide any means or instruments by which NCAs apply those rules. Deeming it as a limit to be overcome to make antitrust policy effective, the Commission has launched an online questionnaire, through which it aims to gather views on the following four aspects regarding NCAs:
- The way they can act independently when enforcing EU competition rules and have the resources and staff needed to do their work;
- Provide them with an adequate competition toolbox to detect and tackle infringements;
- Provide them with powers to impose effective fines on companies which break the rules;
- Encourage NCAs to adopt leniency programmes, which encourage companies to come forward with evidence of illegal cartels, that work effectively across Europe.
The Commission is thus trying to identify the best way to empower the NCAs, to make them more effective enforcers and therefore pursue its own competition policy with renewed strength.
Stakeholders are invited to participate in the public consultation, which is open from November 4th to February 12th, 2016. The target group is made, as usual, by anyone interested to have their own say, but SMEs, larger companies, business associations, consumer organizations and public authorities affected by competition law are particularly welcome.