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Competition

PR(09)98: Preliminary findings of the Authority suggest that Color Line has acted in breach of EEA competition rules

18.12.2009

The Authority can confirm that on 16 December 2009 it sent a Statement of Objections to O.N. Sunde AS, Color Group ASA, Color Line AS and Color Line Transport AS (“Color Line”). The Statement of Objections sets out the Authority's preliminary view that Color Line has infringed Articles 53 and 54 of the EEA Agreement through long-term exclusive agreements in Sandefjord and Strömstad which have prevented other ferry companies from obtaining access to harbour facilities.

Following a complaint, the Authority has carried out an extensive market investigation. On the basis of that investigation, the Statement of Objections sets out the Authority's preliminary view that the harbour agreements have restricted competition on passenger ferry routes between ports on the Norwegian coast between Sandefjord and Langesund and ports on the Swedish coast in the Municipality of Strömstad. Pursuant to those agreements, Color Line has secured long-term exclusive access to harbour facilities in Sandefjord and in Strömstad. That has enabled it to prevent potential competitors from obtaining access to the relevant market, in breach of Articles 53 and 54 of the EEA Agreement.

Color Line has two months to reply to the Statement of Objections, and will then have the right to be heard in an oral hearing. If the preliminary views expressed in the Statement of Objections are confirmed, the Authority may require Color Line to cease the conduct restrictive of competition and may impose a fine.

Background

A Statement of Objections is a formal step in antitrust investigations in which the Authority informs the parties concerned in writing of the objections raised against them. The addressees of a Statement of Objections can reply in writing to the Statement of Objections, setting out all facts known to them which are relevant to their defence against the objections raised by the Authority. They may also request an oral hearing to present their comments on the case. The Authority may then take a decision on whether the conduct addressed in the Statement of Objections is compatible or not with the antitrust rules in the EEA Agreement. Sending a Statement of Objections does not prejudge the final outcome of the procedure.


For further information, please contact:

Mr. Per Andreas Bjørgan
Director, Competition and State Aid Directorate
Tel: (+32) (0)2 286 18 36

 

Brussels, 18 December 2009




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