Last February, the Commission carried out dawn raids of the premises of several companies active in the automotive wire harnesses sector, which are automotive electrical distribution systems.

Over the last few months, the Commission also made unannounced inspections of companies active in other car parts sectors (occupant safety systems, bearings and safety systems).

On 9 August 2012, the Commission officially initiated an investigation regarding a suspected cartel between the suppliers of wire harnesses.

As a reminder, cartels are concerted practices which may affect trade and prevent or restrict competition and are therefore prohibited under article 101 of the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union. By exchanging business information, the companies involved in the cartel can demandhigher prices from consumers than would be the case under fair competition This is the reason why the Commission severely penalizes perpetrators of such infringements of competition law.

At this stage it is still difficult to assess the length of the procedure which essentially depends on the complexity of the case as well as on the cooperation of the parties. Furthermore, under the settlement procedure, by cooperating with the Commission and agreeing to the Commission’s evidence, the investigated companies might obtain a significant reduction in the fines imposed.