In light of the recent recommendations by the OECD and initiatives in neighbouring countries in relation to criminal sanctions for competition law infringements, the Minister in charge of entrepreneurship and simplification, Vincent Van Quickenborne, requested the Directorate General of Competition to investigate the possibility and the desirability of criminalising of hard core competition law infringements.

In its 2009 Economic Survey of Belgium, the OECD recommended that the Belgian Competition Authority’s effectiveness should be enhanced by expanding its panel of possible sanctions by introducing criminal sanctions for hard core cartels. Such criminal sanctions are already foreseen in French legislation and the Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs recently announced a plan to introduce such sanctions in the Netherlands.

The Directorate General of Competition has now finalised the first stage of its investigation and a public consultation with stakeholders will take place in October.