Opening of the File
Action taken by the Commission before a File is Opened
The European Commission in general, and DG IV in particular, is accessible to undertakings and individuals who wish to find out how it operates and how it interprets and applies Community competition law. The Commission advises that, if they have any doubts as to the meaning of competition rules, undertakings should contact DG IV, in order either to adjust their agreements and practices to conform with the competition rules or to defend themselves against conduct on the part of other undertakings which is adversely affecting them.
The Commission also maintains close contact with various European business associations, industrial groups and consumers' and users' associations, through which it is able to obtain first-hand information on the conduct of undertakings in their markets.
Finally, as well as talking to undertakings, trade associations and consumers' associations, the Commission maintains constant contact with the national competition authorities in the Member States. Such contacts are not confined to the formal framework of Article 10 of Regulation 17,1 but extend to informal contacts and exchanges of information not directly relating to specific procedures already initiated.2
Given the informal nature of contacts thus established, they are not in principle treated as necessarily constituting the basis for an investigation, since at this stage it is still not known whether a procedure will ultimately be initiated. This phase is preparatory and exploratory and in many cases does not automatically culminate in the initiation of a procedure, although some informal contacts of this kind may in fact produce that result. Any initiation of a procedure will be either at the request of a party, when the purpose of the informal contact has____________________