The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has endorsed (in case C-447/07P) the European Commission’s decision to accept binding commitments from De Beers to end purchases of rough diamonds from the State-owned Russian company, Alrosa. The commitments were offered after the Commission initiated proceedings alleging that an agreement between the dominant player and its nearest competitor would substantially weaken competition in the global market. In 2007, Alrosa appealed to the General Court against the decision by the Commission to accept the commitments. The General Court ruled (T-170/06) that the Commission’s decision to prohibit all commercial relations between the parties was disproportionate. On 29 June 2010, the Commission won its appeal against the General Court’s judgment. The ECJ confirmed that the Commission has wide discretion in accepting commitments. Its principal obligation is to ascertain whether the commitments offered address the competition concerns raised. It is not required to compare the commitments with those which it could have imposed. Undertakings offering commitments accept that the concessions may go beyond what the Commission could impose. The Court found that Alrosa’s rights were limited to those of an interested third party and that these rights had been respected. This is the first time the ECJ has ruled on the Commission’s powers to accept binding commitments.
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