The European Commission (Commission) has opened a public consultation on draft legislation designed to introduce settlement procedures for cartel cases that would be modeled on the US system. Under the draft legislation, settlements would be allowed in cases in which the parties acknowledge their involvement in the cartel, and also in cases in which parties simply agree to the settlement procedure. The Commission would communicate to the parties its findings and supporting evidence before issuing a statement of objection, and would allow them to present their views. After the exchange, the Commission would close the proceeding by issuing a “settled” statement of objection. Parties agreeing to the simplified procedure would be rewarded with a reduction of fines. The Commission estimates that the proposed settlement mechanism would simplify the current procedures, reduce the volume of litigation, and ultimately enable the Commission to concentrate its resources on a greater number of cases.

Following the period of public consultation ending on December 21, 2007 and after consultation with Member States’ competition authorities, the Commission will issue a revised proposal. Final adoption of the revised settlement procedures is expected in 2008.