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Competition

PR(02)12: EFTA Surveillance Authority adopts guidelines on the method for setting fines in EEA competition cases

30.8.2002

The EFTA Surveillance Authority has adopted guidelines on the method applicable to the setting of fines for infringements of Articles 53 and 54 of the EEA Agreement. The method reflects the principles applied by the European Commission to date. 

The responsibility for handling competition cases under Articles 53 and/or 54 of the EEA Agreement is shared between the EFTA Surveillance Authority and the European Commission in accordance with rules on the attribution of jurisdiction contained in Article 56 of the EEA Agreement.  The powers to impose fines for infringements of the EEA competition rules are the same for the Authority as for the Commission: it follows from the EEA Agreement that the two authorities should seek to secure a uniform application and enforcement of the EEA competition rules throughout the European Economic Area.

According to the EFTA Surveillance Authority’s method of determining the amount of a fine, a base sum defined with reference to the duration and the gravity of the infringement of the EEA competition rules will be calculated without reference to turnover. It can be raised when aggravating circumstances exist or reduced to take account of attenuating circumstances. Corrections can be made to the resulting amount to take account of the individual circumstances of the case.  The final amount calculated according to this method may not in any case exceed 10% of the world-wide turnover of the undertakings, as laid down by Article 15(2) of Chapter II of Protocol 4 to the Agreement Between the EFTA States on the Establishment of a Surveillance Authority and a Court of Justice. 

The EFTA Surveillance Authority also reserves the right, in certain cases, to impose a "symbolic" fine of Euro 1000, which would not involve any calculation based on the duration of the infringement or any aggravating or attenuating circumstances. The justification for imposing such a fine should be given in the text of the decision.

The EFTA Surveillance Authority has simultaneously adopted a new leniency policy designed to create greater incentives for companies to blow the whistle on the most serious violations of antitrust rules (see press release PR(02)11 of even date). 

The notice will be published in the Official Journal of the European Communities and in the EEA Supplement thereto in due course.  In the interim please contact the EFTA Surveillance Authority’s Competition and State Aid Directorate at competition@surv.efta.be for more information. 

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