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Compliance with competition rules: what's in it for business?

What is compliance?

Compliance means respecting the law. In the competition field, it means business proactively respecting competition rules.

Why is it important?

It is the prime responsibility of large, medium and small companies alike to comply with these rules. Companies need to be aware of the risks of infringing competition rules and how to develop a compliance strategy that best suits their needs. An effective compliance strategy enables a company to minimize the risk of involvement in competition law infringements, and the costs resulting from anti-competitive behaviour.

The Commission welcomes and supports efforts by the business community to ensure compliance with EU competition rules. If an infringement is found, however, the mere existence of a compliance strategy will not be taken into consideration when setting the fine: the best reward for a good compliance strategy is not to infringe the law. This standing policy has been confirmed publicly (see speeches "Compliance and competition policy" and "Cartels: the priority in competition enforcement")

Brochure: "Compliance Matters"

Brochure: Compliance Matters

This publication aims to help companies develop a proactive compliance strategy. It summarises the key competition rules companies should respect and sets out generally recognized basic methods to help companies ensure compliance with EU competition rules.

More comprehensive and regularly updated information and guidance on the scope of application and the substance of EU competition rules can be found on the legislation pages (see general antitrust legislation, and in particular cartels legislation). Formal Commission decisions applying these rules are also available on the Competition website. See, for instance, the cartel in the exotic fruit sector.

On the "Competition and Consumers" website you can find more examples of cases dealt with by the Commission (this site is available in 22 languages).

Other sources of information on compliance

There is no single model for competition compliance strategies. Companies may want to consult additional sources on how to develop a successful strategy.

A number of business organisations and national competition authorities have offered to include links to their reference materials on compliance. The purpose of making these documents available here is to spread the knowledge about compliance efforts.

Please note, however, that these materials can in no way be taken to have been endorsed by, or reflect the views of the Commission, which accepts no responsibility or liability for them.

Additional information:

Factsheet: Fines for breaking competition law
Factsheet "Fines for breaking EU Competition law" bg cs da de el en es et fi fr hu it lt lv mt nl pl pt ro sk sl sv

Antitrust Legislation: cartels (illegal agreements), abuse of dominant position, block exemption regulations...

Competition cases database: search engine for finding cases dealt with by the Commission