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Competition Policy

Application of antitrust law by national courts

National courts play a key role in the enforcement of European competition policy.

They may be called upon to apply Article 101 and/or 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) to a variety of scenarios:

  • some courts have jurisdiction over lawsuits between private parties, such as actions relating to contracts or actions for damages;
  • some act as public enforcers (e.g. in Finland, Ireland and Sweden);
  • and some act as review courts, hearing appeals which are brought against decisions of the national competition authorities.

Regulation 1/2003 gave national courts a wider role to enforce Articles 101 and 102 TFEU in full.

If national courts apply national competition law, they also have to apply EU competition law where there is an effect on trade between Member States.

See the section on "Antitrust damages actions in Europe" to learn more about the work of the Commission regarding private enforcement of competition law.

 

Cooperation with the Commission

The Commission is committed to assisting national courts and to build on the duty of sincere cooperation provided for by Article 4(3) of the Treaty on European Union (TEU).

See the Commission Notice on the co-operation between the courts of the EU Member States in the application of Articles 101 and 102 TFEU (consolidated text as amended in 2015)

Article 15 of Regulation 1/2003 expressly provides for the most frequent means of cooperation. The Commission can:

  • transmit information in its possession or of procedural information;
  • give its opinion on questions regarding the application of the EU competition rules; and
  • the Commission (and national competition authorities) can submit observations to national courts as amicus curiae.

Article 15(2) of Regulation 1/2003 obliges national courts to submit to the Commission a copy of any written judgment where Article 101 or Article 102 of the Treaty has been applied.

The Commission also operates a grants programme dedicated to the training of national judges in EU competition law and judicial cooperation between national judges.