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PR(94)12: Grace period for “old” agreements falling under EEA


The transitional period for so‑called old agreements between enterprises, i.e. agreements which were already in existence on 1 January 1994, and which fall under the EEA competition rules, expires on 30 June 1994. Under the EEA rules, agreements and restrictive practices with anti‑competitive effects, and the abuse of a dominant position by one or more enterprises, are prohibited. Prohibited agreements are automatically void.

Whereas new agreements with anti‑competitive effects are immediately subject to the provisions of the EEA Agreement, companies were given six months as from the entry into force of the EEA Agreement to modify their existing agreements so as to comply with EEA competition rules. The rules on abuse of a dominant position applied in full already from 1 January 1994.

Agreements falling under the EEA competition rules may, under certain conditions, be granted an individual exemption, provided that they are notified to the EFTA Surveillance Authority or the European Commission on special forms issued for this purpose. These forms may be obtained from the EFTA Surveillance Authority or from competition authorities in the EFTA countries. One important consequence of a duly completed notification is the immunity from fines, that may otherwise be imposed.

It is recalled that the EFTA Surveillance Authority will continue its work vis‑à‑vis EFTA states joining the EU until the time of their accession. At that time the Commission will continue the handling of ongoing cases, but earlier decisions of the Authority will, as a general rule, remain valid. Furthermore, the Authority will be kept operational in a transitional period after accession regarding facts which have occurred prior to the accession.

In the first six month of its existence the Authority has received some 60 complaints against EFTA states and has adopted 76 formal decisions. It is presently examining, in close contact with the national authorities, more than 5000 notifications on the implementation of EEA‑relevant legal acts in the EFTA states along with over 400 state aid schemes. In the field of competition the Authority has given comments and factual input to the Commission in 65 cases and is presently investigating a number of cases falling under its own competence.

For further information please contact Lennart Göranson (Director for Competition) al tel. 22 66 860 or Klaus Pendl (Press and Information Officer) at tel. 22 66 882.


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