Hellenic Competition Commission

 

Commitments

Terms, conditions and relevant procedure for the acceptance of commitments by the Hellenic Competition Commission

The Hellenic Competition Commission (“HCC”) adopted Decision No. 588/2014 which defines the terms, the conditions and the relevant procedure for the acceptance of commitments offered by undertakings to cease alleged infringements of Articles 1 and 2 of Law 3959/2011 or 101 and 102 TFEU. The HCC’s Decision: 

  • improves the existing administrative practice by accelerating the procedure and making it more efficient. These objectives are served when the undertakings concerned express their interest in discussing commitments at the earliest possible stage of the investigation.
  • ensures that the most appropriate remedies are chosen from a competition policy and public interest perspective. To this effect, the Decision discusses the cases where the acceptance of commitments is appropriate, based on the nature of the infringement, the characteristics of the market and the anticipated benefit, whilst considering the deterrent effect of imposing fines, and adopts criteria for the initiation of the commitments procedure and for evaluating and accepting (or not) the proposed commitments. 
  • introduces a procedure for market testing the proposed commitments, in order to effectively and efficiently address the competition concerns identified. This procedure, if deemed appropriate, may take various forms, such as telephone interviews with representatives of undertakings or their associations or a public consultation. 
  • offers guidelines to undertakings on the procedure to be followed, the relevant timeframes, as well as the terms and conditions for accepting the proposed commitments. The HCC’s Decision was based on the relevant EU practice, the HCC’s experience on accepting commitments in crucial and/or rapidly evolving sectors of the national economy (e.g. energy, satellite pay-TV), as well as national and EU case law on the Commission’s wide discretionary power to initiate the procedure and accept commitments voluntarily offered by undertakings. 

In a nutshell, according to the Decision: 

Criteria for the initiation of the commitment procedure and acceptance of commitments: 

  • The HCC enjoys wide discretionary power to decide on the initiation of the procedure for evaluating and accepting the commitments proposed by the undertakings concerned.
  • Theundertakingsconcerned may propose commitments in any case involving possible infringements of articles 1 and/or 2 of Law 3959/2011 and/or 101 and 102 TFEU.

The HCC deems appropriate to accept commitments in cases where the existing competition concerns: 

  • are readily identifiable;
  • arefully addressed by the commitments offered and no new competition issues arise; and
  • may be efficiently resolved within a short period of time.

            However, the HCC will not accept commitments:

  • incases involving serious restrictions of competition;
  • in cases involving abuse of dominance with serious anticompetitive effects;
  • in horizontal agreements under the leniency programme.
  • The undertakings concerned may propose commitments at any stage of the HCC investigation.

The HCC deems appropriate to accept commitments where they contribute to saving resources and improve the effectiveness of the process. The HCC encourages undertakings to signal their interest in discussing commitments as early as possible.  

The HCC does not deem appropriate to accept commitments where the relevant Statement of Objections has already been notified to the undertakings concerned.

  • The process for evaluating commitments shall be initiated if : 
  • The undertaking demonstrates a genuine willingness to propose commitments which will fully and effectively address the competition concerns; 
  • The specific case is appropriate for accepting commitments; and 
  • The nature and characteristics of the commitments, taking into account their main content and type, are appropriate to restore effective competition on the market.

Procedure: 

To facilitate the procedure for undertakings, the following steps are set out in the Annex to the Decision, the main points of which concern:

  • Preliminary meetings with the Directorate-General and/or the HCC Commissioner-Rapporteur at any stage of the investigation.
  • Evaluation of the criteria for the initiation of the procedure and invitation to the undertakings concerned to submit a final commitment proposal.
  • Market testing the proposed commitments, where appropriate.
  • Notification of the Statement of Objections on the acceptance of the final commitment proposal and hearing of the undertakings concerned and the complainant before the HCC. 

HCC decision making the commitments binding on the parties.

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