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Antitrust

Sector inquiries

What are sector inquiries?

Sector inquiries are investigations that the European Commission carries out into sectors of the economy and into types of agreements across various sectors, when it believes that a market is not working as well as it should, and also believes that breaches of the competition rules might be a contributory factor.

Why does the Commission carry out sector inquiries?

The Commission uses the information obtained in an inquiry to understand a particular market better from the point of view of competition policy. If it finds grounds for doing so, the Commission may – at a later stage – assess whether it needs to open specific investigations to ensure the respect of EU rules on restrictive agreements and abuse of dominant position.

How can the Commission tell that a market is not working as well as it should?

Evidence of this could be:

  • limited trade between Member States
  • lack of new entrants on the market
  • price rigidity
  • other circumstances suggesting that competition may be restricted or distorted

What does the Commission do when it carries out a sector inquiry?

The Commission may ask for information, such as price information, from businesses or business associations. This helps the Commission to assess whether it needs to open specific investigations later.

What happens after a sector inquiry is done?

The results of sector inquires are published in a report and interested parties are invited to submit their comments.

What sector inquiries has the Commission done so far?

The following sectors have been subject of an inquiry: