Mission > Right to be heard
Article 1 of the terms of reference of the Hearing Officers ("Terms of Reference") provides that the main role of the Hearing Officers is to "safeguard the effective exercise of procedural rights throughout competition proceedings before the Commission […]."
The right to be heard is one of the main procedural rights and lies at the heart of the Hearing Officers' role.
Article 41 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union states that every citizen has the "…right to have his or her affairs handled impartially, fairly and within a reasonable time by the institutions and bodies of the Union." This includes "the right of every person to be heard, before any individual measure which would affect him or her adversely is taken ..."
To ensure the proper performance of their role as the guardians of the right to be heard, the Hearing Officers have the following tasks:
- deciding on requests for being heard as an interested third person to the proceedings (Article 5 of the Terms of Reference);
- deciding on requests for participation at oral hearings (Article 6);
- deciding on disputes concerning access to the Commission’s file (Article 7);
- deciding on disputes concerning extensions of the time limits to reply to a statement of objections (Article 9);
- organizing and chairing oral hearings, and reporting thereafter to the Competition Commissioner (Articles 10 to 14); and
- ensuring that the final Commission decision is not based on any objections on which the parties subject to the proceedings have not been heard (Article 16).