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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Competition Compliance - news in the European Union and in Romania


There are a few interesting novelties with regard to competition compliance programs.
First, on 23 November 2011 the European Commission released its guidelines on competition compliance - ”Competition Matters” -http://ec.europa.eu/competition/antitrust/compliance/index_en.html.
The brochure signals that the European Commission is keen to promote compliance within the business community. No reduction of the fine or other incentive is provided for the undertakings that do have in place competition compliance programs which shows that sanctioning of the infringements remains the most important compliance tool in the policy applied by the Commission.
Secondly, just as a happy coincidence, the revised guidelines for the fining in case of breach of the antitrust law, finalized this week by the Romanian Competition Council include, as a new mitigating factor, the existence of an effective competition compliance program. The guidelines will be approved next week and are expected to come into force before the end of the year.
RCC is contemplating the introduction of such a mitigating factor since 2010 and there were some serious arguments against it such as: the fact that companies are always obliged to pay maximum respect to the legal rules, including those on competition and the fact that the very existence of the infringement may be evidence that the competition compliance program was not effective.
In the end, we decided to go forward with the aim to send a signal to the Romanian undertakings that they should do more on prevention as long as the Romanian Competition Council is also committed to apply sanctions to detected and proved infringements at a level which will ensure an adequate deterrence.