Why is competition law such a critical topic? First, it affects many business and strategic decisions. And respecting competition rules is fundamental to healthy, well-functioning markets. Finally, violations of competition law are very heavily sanctioned.
BusinessEurope wants to promote competition compliance by identifying general principles and supporting companies in their actions in this area. Full compliance with antitrust rules is not only a legal obligation, but is also an attitude and a culture that can positively impact a company’s business. Remaining compliant with rules and maintaining a strong reputation are fundamental matters for every enterprise.
A lot can be done in this area through encouraging business to develop and apply competition compliance in their daily activity, providing them with general guidance to do so, and awakening antitrust authorities to the importance of supporting and encouraging companies’ compliance efforts.
This should also be complemented by an efficient redress system for consumers. Effective and easy access to justice for those harmed by breaches of EU rules is paramount. This is key to boost consumer confidence in the Single Market. It is in the interest of companies that adequate redress mechanisms exist and function well.
On 24 April 2017, BusinessEurope launched a new competition package for companies. It is composed of the guide “Making sense of competition law compliance” and the blueprint “Alternative dispute resolution for antitrust damages”. The guide is designed for companies, especially SMEs, and aims to avoid competition breaches in the first place. It can be described as a “first-aid kit” providing elementary guidance to businesses on competition law compliance; its main objective is to encourage basic actions to improve compliance. The blueprint aims to provide, whenever possible, a way to address antitrust damages cases without going to court. The availability of a non-judicial route is particularly important for businesses as well as consumers. In addition, private actions for damages are likely to be more frequent than it has been the case until today, due to ongoing legislative developments.
The objective of the package is two-fold. Firstly, to demonstrate the business community’s commitment to compliance with competition rules, encourage entrepreneurs to take concrete compliance steps and provide a practical tool to achieve that. Secondly, we would like to address those situations when violations still take place and provide a pragmatic avenue for companies and consumers to deal with compensation.