Posted: February 17th, 2022
How Leniency Programs within EU Work
Article 101 of the Treaty of the functioning of the EU (TFEU) states that anti-competitive agreements and other related practices are prohibited. The European Commission administers the treaty, and the leniency program covers specific violations of the article. Furthermore, the treaty is governed by the Notice on immunity from fines and the reduction of fines in cartel cases. According to the European Union, the commission’s leniency program is such that companies that give sufficient information about a cartel can be granted full or partial immunity from fines. The European Commission has operated a leniency program since 1996 to allow undertakings an opportunity to report their wrongdoing and receive a possible heavy fine for the competition infringement (Motchenkova, 2004). The program’s characteristics are defined in a 2006 leniency notice on immunity or possible reduction on fines in cartel-related cases.
The European Commission also outlines conditions under which a lenient applicant immunity from a fine. The commission states that it will grant immunity from a fine for the first person to submit information and evidence. According to the commission, such information will help it carry out targeted inspection connected to any form of the cartel. Secondly, the information will help the commission find an infringement of Article 101 of the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union in connection to the alleged cartel. The commission also states that a person applying for leniency must demonstrate optimal cooperation continuously. The applicant must have also ended the involvement in the cartel immediately following the application except for what sounds to be, in the commission’s view, be reasonably necessary to preserve the commission’s integrity for inspection. Furthermore, the commission states that an applicant must not have destroyed, concealed, or falsified evidence of the cartel not sought to disclose the fact or context of the contemplated application other than to other competition authorities.
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