Bilateral relations > United States of America
The EU cooperates with the US competition authorities - the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission - primarily on the basis of the 1991 Cooperation Agreement and the 1998 "Positive Comity Agreement". Cooperation is intensified if the parties to a case have granted a waiver allowing the exchange of otherwise protected information.
1991 EU/US Competition Cooperation Agreement
This agreement aims to promote cooperation between both competition authorities. The Agreement provides for:
- notification of cases being handled by the competition authorities of one Party, to the extent that these cases concern the important interests of the other Party (Article II), and exchange of information on general matters relating to the implementation of the competition rules (Article III);
- cooperation and coordination of the actions of both Parties' competition authorities (Article IV);
- a "traditional comity" procedure by virtue of which each Party undertakes to take into account the important interests of the other Party when it takes measures to enforce its competition rules (Article VI);
- a "positive comity" procedure by virtue of which either Party can invite the other Party to take, on the basis of the latter's legislation, appropriate measures regarding anti-competitive behaviour implemented on its territory and which affects the important interests of the requesting Party (Article V).
The Cooperation Agreement provides for regular bilateral meetings to share information on current enforcement activities and priorities; on economic sectors of common interest, to discuss policy changes, and to discuss other matters of mutual interest relating to the application of competition laws.
1998 EU/US Positive Comity Agreement
Under the rules of positive comity, one party may request the other party to remedy anti-competitive behaviour which originates in its jurisdiction but affects the requesting party as well. The agreement clarifies both the mechanics of the positive comity cooperation instrument, and the circumstances in which it can be availed of. Positive comity provisions are not frequently used as companies (i.e. complainants) prefer to address directly the competition authority they consider to be best suited to deal with the situation.
Administrative Arrangement on Attendance (AAA)
The AAA sets forth administrative arrangements between both competition authorities concerning reciprocal attendance at certain stages of the procedures in individual cases, involving the application of their respective competition rules. These arrangements were concluded in the framework of the agreements between the EU and the US concerning enforcement of their competition rules, and in particular the provisions regarding co-ordination of enforcement activities.
The AAA is not a new agreement but an understanding about administrative arrangements to apply the 1991 Agreement.
- Report on the application of the Agreement between the European Communities and the Government of the United States of America regarding the application of their competition laws in 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002. For more recent reports, see DG Competition Annual Reports on Competition Policy.
2011 EU/US Best Practices on Cooperation in Merger Investigations
- Best Practices on Cooperation in Merger Investigations en
- Frequently asked questions en
In 2002, a set of best practices on cooperation in reviewing mergers was agreed. These best practices were updated and revised in 2011. These best practices are not legally binding but simply intend to set forth an advisory framework for interagency cooperation. They put in place a structured basis for cooperation in reviews of individual merger cases.
The best practices recognise that cooperation is most effective when the investigation timetables of the reviewing agencies run more or less in parallel. Merging companies will therefore be offered the possibility of meeting at an early stage with the agencies to discuss timing issues. Companies are also encouraged to permit the agencies to exchange information which they have submitted during the course of an investigation and, where appropriate, to allow joint EU/US interviews of the companies concerned. The practices designate key points in the respective EU and US merger investigations when it may be appropriate for direct contacts to occur between senior officials on both sides.