European Community Competition Procedure

By Luis Ortiz Blanco | Go to book overview

10
Voluntary Adjustments and Conclusion of the Procedure without a
Formal Decision

section I: VOLUNTARY ADJUSTMENTS

(A)
The Administrative Procedure as an Opportunity for Adjustment

From the very commencement of the investigation of a case, undertakings can reach an amicable agreement with the Commission if they agree to bring their activities into line with Community competition law.1

The Commission usually informs undertakings of the investigations which it has commenced concerning them at the earliest stage of the inquiries and, in particular, always sends the undertakings a copy of the complaints received against them, usually before, but certainly no later than, the sending of the statement of objections. Moreover, the Commission is open to all kinds of direct contact, which enable undertakings to gain better knowledge both of the procedures and of the substantive rules of competition law. This means that in many cases the undertakings themselves, aware of the Commission's critical view of particular agreements, conduct or practices, change their own behaviour appropriately, thus avoiding the initiation of an infringement procedure or the adoption of a formal decision against them.

Voluntary adjustments are always possible, but must conform with the requirements imposed by the Commission. If a proposal for adjustments does not meet all its requirements, the Commission is free to go on with the infringement procedure.2

The appropriate occasions for a voluntary adjustment to be made are numerous, arising as soon as the file is opened3 and even before, 4 and coming to an

____________________
1
The administrative procedure specifically gives undertakings an opportunity to explain their conduct and adjust their agreements to the requirements of Community law. See Joined Cases 142 and 156/84 BATand Reynolds v. Commission [ 1987] ECR 4487, [ 1988] 4 CMLR24, CCH ¶ 14-405.
2
See Joined Cases 96-102, 104, 105, 108 and 110/82 NA VEWA v. Commission [ 1983] ECR 3369, [ 1984] 3 CMLR276, CCH ¶ 14-023 at para. 15.
3
As stated, a number is assigned to the case when the file is opened. Regarding the opening of the file, see Ch. 3.B.
4
In practice, DG IV may establish contact with the undertakings even before giving the case a number. See Ch. 3.A.

-262-

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