The European Commission has adopted a report on the first five years of application of Regulation 1/2003 on the modernisation of the enforcement of EC antitrust rules. The report follows a fact finding phase to obtain input from stakeholders and a public consultation with businesses, law firms and academia.
According to the report, the abandonment of individual exemptions under Article 81(3) of the EC Treaty has eliminated unnecessary bureaucracy and allowed the Commission to focus its resources on serious violations, such as cartels. The report finds also that the introduction of the European Network of Competition Authorities has contributed to increasing coherent application of EC antitrust rules and has proved to be a successful model of cooperation amongst the national authorities and the Commission.
The report recommends improvements in certain aspects of the Commission's investigations and procedures, notably in relation to voluntary interviews and the imposition of periodic penalty payments. The report also highlights the fact that Regulation 1/2003 does not formally regulate or harmonise the procedures of national competition authorities when they apply EC antitrust rules. Many Member States have, however, voluntarily aligned their rules of procedure with those of the EC.