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European Competition Network (ECN)

The national competition authorities and the European Commission form a network of authorities, which act in the public interest and cooperate closely to protect competition. This network is known as the “European Competition Network”, (ECN).

With Regulation (EC) no. 1/2003 a system of parallel competences was created within which the European Commission and the competition authorities of the Member States apply the competition rules laid down in the EC Treaty (Articles 101 and 102 TFEU). Together the national competition authorities and the European Commission form a network of authorities, which act in the public interest and cooperate closely to protect competition. This network is known as the “European Competition Network”, (ECN).

The ECN is a discussion and cooperation forum for applying and enforcing EU competition policy. It provides a framework for cooperation between the European competition authorities in cases in which Articles 101 and/or 102 TFEU are applied and a basis for creating and fostering a common competition culture in Europe.

The cooperation takes the following form:

• exchange of information about cases and decisions taken by the member competition authorities,
• mutual assistance with investigations,
• exchange of evidence or other information.

Fora within the ECN

The leading forum of the ECN is the Meeting of Directors General, this meeting defines the work programme for the entire Network. Key fora of the ECN are the Plenary, as well as the Working Group dealing with overall problems, which are ”Cooperation Issues and Due Process” and “Cartels”. Besides those working groups, national experts and experts from the European Commission are also discussing specific legal and policy problems in sectoral subgroups (such as “energy”, “pharmaceuticals”, “banking and insurance", “sports and media”).

ECN and Bundeskartellamt

In May 2004 a coordination unit was set up in the Bundeskartellamt to represent the authority in the network of the European competition authorities. This ECN Coordination Unit is attached to the policy unit G1, German and European Antitrust Law, Public Procurement.

Legal background

Article 101 and 102 of the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union

Council Regulation 1/2003 on the implementation of the rules on competition laid down in Articles 81 and 82 of the Treaty

Joint Statement of the Council and the Commission on the functioning of the network of Competition Authorities

Commission Notice on cooperation within the Network of Competition Authorities

Resolutions of the Directors General

The reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (21 December 2012)

Protection of leniency material in the context of civil damages actions (23 May 2012)

Competition authorities in the European Union - the continued need for effective institutions (16 November 2010)

The recommendation of the High Level Group of Milk aimed at improving the bargaining power of dairy farms (17 November 2010)

ECN Recommendations

ECN Recommendation on Investigative Powers, Enforcement Measures and Sanctions in the context of Inspections and Requests for Information

ECN Recommendation on the Power to collect Digital Evidence, including by Forensic Means

ECN Recommendation on Assistance in Inspections conducted under Article 22 (1) of Regulation (EC) No 1/2003

ECN Recommendation on the Power to set Priorities

ECN Recommendation on Interim Measures

ECN Recommendation on Commitment Procedures

ECN Recommendation on the Power to Impose Structural Remedies

Further ECN documents

ECN Model Leniency Programme (November 2012)

Report on investigative and decision making powers (October 2012)

Sector reports

ECN activities in the food sector - Report on competition law enforcement and market monitoring activities by European competition authorities in the food sector (24 May 2012)

Information paper on competition enforcement in the payments sector (20 March 2012)

Important links

Information from the European Commission (DG Comp) regarding the ECN

European Competition Network Newsletter