Competition: Revised “safe harbour” rules adopted (de minimis)




The EFTA Surveillance Authority has issued revised rules for assessing when minor agreements between companies do not fall under the general prohibition against anticompetitive practices under EEA competition law. The revision facilitates the assessment of compliance with the EEA competition rules for companies, in particular small and medium-sized enterprises. It also allows the Authority to concentrate its resources on agreements which pose a higher risk to competition in the EEA.

According to the EEA competition rules, agreements that are aimed at or result in appreciable restrictions of competition are prohibited. The revised rules, in line with their predecessors, create a “safe harbour” for companies whose market shares do not exceed 10% for agreements between competitors and 15% for agreements between non-competitors. These thresholds remain unchanged.

The main change to the rules involves a clarification, following recent case law of the European Court of Justice, that agreements that have an anti-competitive object (“restrictions by object”, such as price-fixing and market-sharing) cannot be considered as agreements of minor importance, but always constitute an appreciable restriction of competition. Such agreements can never benefit from the “safe harbour”.

The revised rules can be found under Notices and Guidelines on the Authority's web site.

For further information, please contact:

Press & Information Officer 
tel. (+32)(0)2 286 18 66
mob. (+32)(0)492 900 187

Other EEA Institutions

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