The EEA co-operation regime

In “mixed” cases, which affect both the EFTA States and the EU Member States, the Commission and ESA co-operate. The EEA rules on co-operation in competition cases provide that the authority not handling a case has a right to participate in the proceedings.

In cases under Articles 53 and 54, co-operation will occur when the criteria in Protocol 23 to the EEA Agreement  are met. In merger control cases, the relevant provisions can be found in Protocol 24 to the EEA Agreement. These Protocols contain the detailed rules and procedures for co-operation and exchange of information between the Commission and ESA and for the involvement of national competition authorities.

In cases under Articles 53 and 54 in which the Commission has jurisdiction, ESA will make an independent assessment of the impact in the EFTA States of the conduct at issue. During its investigation, the Commission may request ESA to undertake surprise inspections at the premises of undertakings located in the EFTA States. ESA will inform the Commission of its views at various stages of the proceedings. ESA gives priority to EEA mixed antitrust cases where the conduct under scrutiny has or may have a significant impact in one or more EFTA States.

Similarly, in merger cases in which the Commission has jurisdiction, ESA will make an independent assessment of the impact of a proposed concentration in the EFTA States and inform the Commission of its views.

In both antitrust and merger cases, ESA seeks to assist the Commission to the extent possible in gathering information to secure a comprehensive appraisal of the impact in the EFTA States of the concentration or conduct under consideration.

ESA has been involved, through the co-operation rules of the EEA Agreement, in a number of high profile cases which the Commission has handled, often resulting in the imposition of heavy fines on the undertakings involved.

The co-operation procedures laid down in Protocols 23 and 24 also extend to the EFTA States when the Commission is the competent authority, and to the EU Member States in mixed cases dealt with by ESA. In mixed cases handled by the Commission, ESA forwards copies of documents, invitations to hearings and advisory committee meetings etc. to the competent authorities of the EFTA States, which are entitled to comment and express their views. In all such proceedings, the views of ESA remain independent from those of the EFTA States.




Other EEA Institutions


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