Universiteit Leiden

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Handling and rejecting (EU) competition law complaints: access to justice after ECN+

Friday 2 September 2022

About the webinar

Competition law proceedings before the European Commission and national competition authorities (NCAs) must be fair, accessible, and open. The decisions and interventions of these public enforcers must also be reliable and based on sound legal and economic reasoning. At the same time, competition authorities have limited resources and are expected to make efficient and effective use of these. They must, therefore, set priorities and decide which cases to pursue and which to disregard. The question of how to handle complaints stands at the center of this delicate balancing act.                                 

The procedural rights of complainants largely depend on whether the respective legal system recognizes their formal status as well as on the margin of discretion that is granted to the competition authority. The so-called “ECN+ Directive” (Directive (EU) 2019/1) – which is currently still being implemented in various Member States - will result in further harmonization of national procedural rules, and in particular in harmonizing the ability of NCAs to reject low-priority antitrust complaints. The Directive, however, remains silent on the criteria of handling and rejecting complaints. Substantial national differences are, thus, likely to persist.

This diversity of handling complaints within the European Competition Network (ECN) is also relevant in light of Article 13 of Regulation 1/2003, which introduced the possibility for the Commission to reject complaints in a simplified procedure on the ground that another authority is or has dealt with the case. The European Commission has not shied away from using this legal possibility and its “hands-off” approach has generally been endorsed by the EU courts. The recent judgment of the General Court in Sped-Pro v Commission (Case T-791/19) is a notable exception, however.

In this webinar we investigate and discuss the principles and practices that guide the treatment of antitrust complaints by the European Commission and the 27 NCAs, and in particular the use of their discretionary power to reject such complaints for lack of priority. The discussion will be informed by recent comprehensive empirical studies and case studies from selected Member States. The aim of the webinar is to evaluate the implications of these data for the decentralized enforcement of EU antitrust law, case allocation within the ECN, and ultimately the effective judicial protection of third parties who are potential complainants.

Programme and speakers

  1. Welcome and background
    Dr. Kati Cseres (Associate Professor, University of Amsterdam)
  2. Handling and rejecting complaints by the 27 NCAs
    Dr. Kati Cseres and Dr. Or Brook (Associate Professor, University of Leeds)
  3. Priority-setting and complaint handling by the European Commission
    Dr. Ben Van Rompuy (Assistant Professor, Leiden University)
  4. Panel discussion
    -Mr. Jan Szczodrowski (Member of the Legal Service, European Commission)
    -Prof. María Pilar Canedo Arrillaga (Member of the Board of the Spanish Comisión Nacional de Los Mercados y la        Competencia)
    -Mr. Ruben Elkerbout (Partner at Amsterdam-based law firm Stek)
    -Moderated by Dr. Malgorzata Kozak (Assistant Professor, Utrecht University)


Participation is free of charge and open to all, but registration is required.

About the webinar

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