The European Commission has sole competence to decide that there has been no breach of EU law prohibiting abuse of a dominant position, according to the ECJ.
In a reference for a preliminary ruling brought by the Supreme Court, the ECJ ruled that national competition authorities may decide under EU law whether there are no grounds for action, but not whether a breach has not occurred.
The ECJ decided that empowering national competition authorities to decide such issues could undermine the powers of the Commission, and prevent the uniform application of competition rules in member states. An earlier negative decision at national level could also prevent the Commission from finding that there had been a breach of Treaty provisions.
The ruling was sought by the Supreme Court when UOKIK ruled that the conduct of Telekomunikacja Polska SA did not constitute an abuse of a dominant position under Polish competition law, and that its decision also brought to an end proceedings for infringement of Treaty provisions.
UOKIK’s decision was challenged by Tele2 Polska (now Netia SA), a competitor of Telekomunikacja Polska SA. The challenge was annulled at first instance and upheld on appeal. When this was challenged by UOKIK in the Supreme Court, the issue was referred to the ECJ for a ruling.
Law: Article 5, Regulation 1/2003