Actions for Damages > overview
Steps towards a European legal framework
According to the European Court of Justice, any citizen or business which suffers harm as a result of a breach of the EU antitrust rules (Articles 101 and 102 TFEU) should be entitled to reparation from the party who caused it. However, despite this requirement under European law to establish an effective legal framework enabling victims to exercise their right to compensation, victims of antitrust infringements to date very often do not obtain anything for the harm suffered. The amount of compensation these victims forego is in the range of several billion Euros a year.
The lack of an effective legal framework for antitrust damages actions hinders full enforcement of the antitrust rules and negatively impacts active competition in an open internal market. The current inefficiency of antitrust damages actions would be best addressed by a combination of measures at both EU and national level. These measures should ensure minimum protection of the victims' right to damages under Articles 101 and 102 in every Member State, create a more level playing field and provide greater legal certainty across the EU.
In order to work towards an effective European framework the Commission has taken a number of steps since 2004 to stimulate the debate on that topic, and has obtained feedback from stakeholders on a number of possible initiatives which could facilitate antitrust damages actions. In some of these topics the European Parliament has also taken an active role.
In particular, the Commission issued a Green Paper in 2005 which identified some of the main obstacles preventing victims from bringing actions for damages in the Member States, and proposed a set of solutions to overcome these.
In 2008 the Commission published a White Paper, containing specific proposals to overcome legal and procedural hurdles within the Member States' rules governing antitrust actions for damages.
More recently, the Commission has focussed its work on two main areas it considers important within the context of antitrust damages actions: collective redress and quantification of harm in cases relating to actions for damages for breaches of the EU competition rules.
Furthermore, the Commission Work Programme 2012 foresees a legislative proposal on actions for damages for breaches of antitrust law, as well as a follow-up initiative to the Commission's previous work on collective redress.
The Commission is committed to providing assistance to national courts in the application of Articles 101 and 102 TFEU. This includes a funding programme for training of national judges in EU competition law and judicial cooperation between national judges.