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Competition

PR(04)14: Statement on EFTA Surveillance Authority inspection in Norway

25.5.2004

Following inquiries from journalists, the EFTA Surveillance Authority confirms that, on 25 May 2004, inspectors from the EFTA Surveillance Authority, assisted by officials from the Norwegian Competition Authority, carried out an unannounced inspection at the premises of a producer of publication paper in Norway. The purpose of the inspection is to ascertain whether there is evidence of cartel agreements and related illegal practices amongst EEA producers of publication paper and amongst acquirers of recovered paper.

The EFTA Surveillance Authority may undertake inspections at premises of undertakings in the EFTA States on its own initiative, or at the request of the European Commission, depending on the circumstances and on the possible allocation of jurisdiction under the EEA Agreement in each case. The Commission is the competent surveillance authority in this case and has requested the Authority to carry out the inspection in Norway. The information obtained by the Authority during the inspection will be transmitted to the Commission for further examination.

Surprise inspections are a preliminary step in investigations into suspected cartels. The fact that such inspections are carried out does not mean that the companies are guilty of anti-competitive behaviour nor does it prejudge the outcome of the investigation itself.

There is no strict deadline to complete cartel inquiries. Their duration is determined largely by the complexity of each case, the exercise of the rights of defence, in particular the right of companies to be heard in antitrust proceedings, and by the observance of the competent surveillance authority's consultation and other procedures.

For further information please contact Mr. Claus W. Koren on tel. (+32)(0)2 286 18 65.

 




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