Under new rules implemented by the EC, a company which is under cartel investigation may choose to acknowledge its involvement in a cartel in exchange for a 10% reduction of its fine. A settlement can only be reached after the proceedings are initiated and before the EC issues a statement of objections. The EC has discretionary powers to accept or reject settlement offers. When a company makes a settlement offer it must give up both its right of access to the EC’s file and its right to participate in the hearing. However, it may appeal the EC’s final decision. The new settlement procedure is different from the EC’s leniency programme, which was introduced in 1996. Under the leniency programme cartel participants can qualify for either a complete immunity from, or a significant reduction in, fines in exchange for providing the EC with evidence of anti-competitive activities. In contrast, a company making a settlement offer would not supply any new evidence to the EC but would merely “plead guilty” to participating in a cartel.