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Document 52004XC0427(03)

Commission Notice on the co-operation between the Commission and the courts of the EU Member States in the application of Articles 81 and 82 EC (Text with EEA relevance)

OJ C 127, 9.4.2016, p. 13–21 (CS, ET, LV, LT, HU, MT, PL, SK, SL)
OJ C 101, 27.4.2004, p. 54–64 (ES, DA, DE, EL, EN, FR, IT, NL, PT, FI, SV)
Special edition in Bulgarian: Chapter 08 Volume 004 P. 122 - 132
Special edition in Romanian: Chapter 08 Volume 004 P. 122 - 132
Special edition in Croatian: Chapter 08 Volume 001 P. 242 - 252

52004XC0427(03)

Commission Notice on the co-operation between the Commission and the courts of the EU Member States in the application of Articles 81 and 82 EC (Text with EEA relevance)

Official Journal C 101 , 27/04/2004 P. 0054 - 0064


Commission Notice on the co-operation between the Commission and the courts of the EU Member States in the application of Articles 81 and 82 EC

(2004/C 101/04)

(Text with EEA relevance)

I. THE SCOPE OF THE NOTICE

1. The present notice addresses the co-operation between the Commission and the courts of the EU Member States, when the latter apply Articles 81 and 82 EC. For the purpose of this notice, the "courts of the EU Member States" (hereinafter "national courts") are those courts and tribunals within an EU Member State that can apply Articles 81 and 82 EC and that are authorised to ask a preliminary question to the Court of Justice of the European Communities pursuant to Article 234 EC(1).

2. The national courts may be called upon to apply Articles 81 or 82 EC in lawsuits between private parties, such as actions relating to contracts or actions for damages. They may also act as public enforcer or as review court. A national court may indeed be designated as a competition authority of a Member State (hereinafter "the national competition authority") pursuant to Article 35(1) of Regulation (EC) No 1/2003 (hereinafter "the regulation")(2). In that case, the co-operation between the national courts and the Commission is not only covered by the present notice, but also by the notice on the co-operation within the network of competition authorities(3).

II. THE APPLICATION OF EC COMPETITION RULES BY NATIONAL COURTS

A. THE COMPETENCE OF NATIONAL COURTS TO APPLY EC COMPETITION RULES

3. To the extent that national courts have jurisdiction to deal with a case(4), they have the power to apply Articles 81 and 82 EC(5). Moreover, it should be remembered that Articles 81 and 82 EC are a matter of public policy and are essential to the accomplishment of the tasks entrusted to the Community, and, in particular, for the functioning of the internal market(6). According to the Court of Justice, where, by virtue of domestic law, national courts must raise of their own motion points of law based on binding domestic rules which have not been raised by the parties, such an obligation also exists where binding Community rules, such as the EC competition rules, are concerned. The position is the same if domestic law confers on national courts a discretion to apply of their own motion binding rules of law: national courts must apply the EC competition rules, even when the party with an interest in application of those provisions has not relied on them, where domestic law allows such application by the national court. However, Community law does not require national courts to raise of their own motion an issue concerning the breach of provisions of Community law where examination of that issue would oblige them to abandon the passive role assigned to them by going beyond the ambit of the dispute defined by the parties themselves and relying on facts and circumstances other than those on which the party with an interest in application of those provisions bases his claim(7).

4. Depending on the functions attributed to them under national law, national courts may be called upon to apply Articles 81 and 82 EC in administrative, civil or criminal proceedings(8). In particular, where a natural or legal person asks the national court to safeguard his individual rights, national courts play a specific role in the enforcement of Articles 81 and 82 EC, which is different from the enforcement in the public interest by the Commission or by national competition authorities(9). Indeed, national courts can give effect to Articles 81 and 82 EC by finding contracts to be void or by awards of damages.

5. National courts can apply Articles 81 and 82 EC, without it being necessary to apply national competition law in parallel. However, where a national court applies national competition law to agreements, decisions by associations of undertakings or concerted practices which may affect trade between Member States within the meaning of Article 81(1) EC(10) or to any abuse prohibited by Article 82 EC, they also have to apply EC competition rules to those agreements, decisions or practices(11).

6. The regulation does not only empower the national courts to apply EC competition law. The parallel application of national competition law to agreements, decisions of associations of undertakings and concerted practices which affect trade between Member States may not lead to a different outcome from that of EC competition law. Article 3(2) of the regulation provides that agreements, decisions or concerted practices which do not infringe Article 81(1) EC or which fulfil the conditions of Article 81(3) EC cannot be prohibited either under national competition law(12). On the other hand, the Court of Justice has ruled that agreements, decisions or concerted practices that violate Article 81(1) and do not fulfil the conditions of Article 81(3) EC cannot be upheld under national law(13). As to the parallel application of national competition law and Article 82 EC in the case of unilateral conduct, Article 3 of the regulation does not provide for a similar convergence obligation. However, in case of conflicting provisions, the general principle of primacy of Community law requires national courts to disapply any provision of national law which contravenes a Community rule, regardless of whether that national law provision was adopted before or after the Community rule(14).

7. Apart from the application of Articles 81 and 82 EC, national courts are also competent to apply acts adopted by EU institutions in accordance with the EC Treaty or in accordance with the measures adopted to give the Treaty effect, to the extent that these acts have direct effect. National courts may thus have to enforce Commission decisions(15) or regulations applying Article 81(3) EC to certain categories of agreements, decisions or concerted practices. When applying these EC competition rules, national courts act within the framework of Community law and are consequently bound to observe the general principles of Community law(16).

8. The application of Articles 81 and 82 EC by national courts often depends on complex economic and legal assessments(17). When applying EC competition rules, national courts are bound by the case law of the Community courts as well as by Commission regulations applying Article 81(3) EC to certain categories of agreements, decisions or concerted practices(18). Furthermore, the application of Articles 81 and 82 EC by the Commission in a specific case binds the national courts when they apply EC competition rules in the same case in parallel with or subsequent to the Commission(19). Finally, and without prejudice to the ultimate interpretation of the EC Treaty by the Court of Justice, national courts may find guidance in Commission regulations and decisions which present elements of analogy with the case they are dealing with, as well as in Commission notices and guidelines relating to the application of Articles 81 and 82 EC(20) and in the annual report on competition policy(21).

B. PROCEDURAL ASPECTS OF THE APPLICATION OF EC COMPETITION RULES BY NATIONAL COURTS

9. The procedural conditions for the enforcement of EC competition rules by national courts and the sanctions they can impose in case of an infringement of those rules, are largely covered by national law. However, to some extent, Community law also determines the conditions in which EC competition rules are enforced. Those Community law provisions may provide for the faculty of national courts to avail themselves of certain instruments, e.g. to ask for the Commission's opinion on questions concerning the application of EC competition rules(22) or they may create rules that have an obligatory impact on proceedings before them, e.g. allowing the Commission and national competition authorities to submit written observations(23). These Community law provisions prevail over national rules. Therefore, national courts have to set aside national rules which, if applied, would conflict with these Community law provisions. Where such Community law provisions are directly applicable, they are a direct source of rights and duties for all those affected, and must be fully and uniformly applied in all the Member States from the date of their entry into force(24).

10. In the absence of Community law provisions on procedures and sanctions related to the enforcement of EC competition rules by national courts, the latter apply national procedural law and - to the extent that they are competent to do so - impose sanctions provided for under national law. However, the application of these national provisions must be compatible with the general principles of Community law. In this regard, it is useful to recall the case law of the Court of Justice, according to which:

(a) where there is an infringement of Community law, national law must provide for sanctions which are effective, proportionate and dissuasive(25);

(b) where the infringement of Community law causes harm to an individual, the latter should under certain conditions be able to ask the national court for damages(26);

(c) the rules on procedures and sanctions which national courts apply to enforce Community law

- must not make such enforcement excessively difficult or practically impossible (the principle of effectiveness)(27) and they

- must not be less favourable than the rules applicable to the enforcement of equivalent national law (the principle of equivalence)(28).

On the basis of the principle of primacy of Community law, a national court may not apply national rules that are incompatible with these principles.

C. PARALLEL OR CONSECUTIVE APPLICATION OF EC COMPETITION RULES BY THE COMMISSION AND BY NATIONAL COURTS

11. A national court may be applying EC competition law to an agreement, decision, concerted practice or unilateral behaviour affecting trade between Member States at the same time as the Commission or subsequent to the Commission(29). The following points outline some of the obligations national courts have to respect in those circumstances.

12. Where a national court comes to a decision before the Commission does, it must avoid adopting a decision that would conflict with a decision contemplated by the Commission(30). To that effect, the national court may ask the Commission whether it has initiated proceedings regarding the same agreements, decisions or practices(31) and if so, about the progress of proceedings and the likelihood of a decision in that case(32). The national court may, for reasons of legal certainty, also consider staying its proceedings until the Commission has reached a decision(33). The Commission, for its part, will endeavour to give priority to cases for which it has decided to initiate proceedings within the meaning of Article 2(1) of Commission Regulation (EC) No 773/2004 and that are the subject of national proceedings stayed in this way, in particular when the outcome of a civil dispute depends on them. However, where the national court cannot reasonably doubt the Commission's contemplated decision or where the Commission has already decided on a similar case, the national court may decide on the case pending before it in accordance with that contemplated or earlier decision without it being necessary to ask the Commission for the information mentioned above or to await the Commission's decision.

13. Where the Commission reaches a decision in a particular case before the national court, the latter cannot take a decision running counter to that of the Commission. The binding effect of the Commission's decision is of course without prejudice to the interpretation of Community law by the Court of Justice. Therefore, if the national court doubts the legality of the Commission's decision, it cannot avoid the binding effects of that decision without a ruling to the contrary by the Court of Justice(34). Consequently, if a national court intends to take a decision that runs counter to that of the Commission, it must refer a question to the Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling (Article 234 EC). The latter will then decide on the compatibility of the Commission's decision with Community law. However, if the Commission's decision is challenged before the Community courts pursuant to Article 230 EC and the outcome of the dispute before the national court depends on the validity of the Commission's decision, the national court should stay its proceedings pending final judgment in the action for annulment by the Community courts unless it considers that, in the circumstances of the case, a reference to the Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling on the validity of the Commission decision is warranted(35).

14. When a national court stays proceedings, e.g. awaiting the Commission's decision (situation described in point 12 of this notice) or pending final judgement by the Community courts in an action for annulment or in a preliminary ruling procedure (situation described in point 13), it is incumbent on it to examine whether it is necessary to order interim measures in order to safeguard the interests of the parties(36).

III. THE CO-OPERATION BETWEEN THE COMMISSION AND NATIONAL COURTS

15. Other than the co-operation mechanism between the national courts and the Court of Justice under Article 234 EC, the EC Treaty does not explicitly provide for co-operation between the national courts and the Commission. However, in its interpretation of Article 10 EC, which obliges the Member States to facilitate the achievement of the Community's tasks, the Community courts found that this Treaty provision imposes on the European institutions and the Member States mutual duties of loyal co-operation with a view to attaining the objectives of the EC Treaty. Article 10 EC thus implies that the Commission must assist national courts when they apply Community law(37). Equally, national courts may be obliged to assist the Commission in the fulfilment of its tasks(38).

16. It is also appropriate to recall the co-operation between national courts and national authorities, in particular national competition authorities, for the application of Articles 81 and 82 EC. While the co-operation between these national authorities is primarily governed by national rules, Article 15(3) of the regulation provides for the possibility for national competition authorities to submit observations before the national courts of their Member State. Points 31 and 33 to 35 of this notice are mutatis mutandis applicable to those submissions.

A. THE COMMISSION AS AMICUS CURIAE

17. In order to assist national courts in the application of EC competition rules, the Commission is committed to help national courts where the latter find such help necessary to be able to decide on a case. Article 15 of the regulation refers to the most frequent types of such assistance: the transmission of information (points 21 to 26) and the Commission's opinions (points 27 to 30), both at the request of a national court and the possibility for the Commission to submit observations (points 31 to 35). Since the regulation provides for these types of assistance, it cannot be limited by any Member States' rule. However, in the absence of Community procedural rules to this effect and to the extent that they are necessary to facilitate these forms of assistance, Member States must adopt the appropriate procedural rules to allow both the national courts and the Commission to make full use of the possibilities the regulation offers(39).

18. The national court may send its request for assistance in writing to European Commission Directorate General for Competition B - 1049 Brussels Belgium

or send it electronically to comp-amicus@cec.eu.int

19. It should be recalled that whatever form the co-operation with national courts takes, the Commission will respect the independence of national courts. As a consequence, the assistance offered by the Commission does not bind the national court. The Commission has also to make sure that it respects its duty of professional secrecy and that it safeguards its own functioning and independence(40). In fulfilling its duty under Article 10 EC, of assisting national courts in the application of EC competition rules, the Commission is committed to remaining neutral and objective in its assistance. Indeed, the Commission's assistance to national courts is part of its duty to defend the public interest. It has therefore no intention to serve the private interests of the parties involved in the case pending before the national court. As a consequence, the Commission will not hear any of the parties about its assistance to the national court. In case the Commission has been contacted by any of the parties in the case pending before the court on issues which are raised before the national court, it will inform the national court thereof, independent of whether these contacts took place before or after the national court's request for co-operation.

20. The Commission will publish a summary concerning its co-operation with national courts pursuant to this notice in its annual Report on Competition Policy. It may also make its opinions and observations available on its website.

1. The Commission's duty to transmit information to national courts

21. The duty for the Commission to assist national courts in the application of EC competition law is mainly reflected in the obligation for the Commission to transmit information it holds to national courts. A national court may, e.g., ask the Commission for documents in its possession or for information of a procedural nature to enable it to discover whether a certain case is pending before the Commission, whether the Commission has initiated a procedure or whether it has already taken a position. A national court may also ask the Commission when a decision is likely to be taken, so as to be able to determine the conditions for any decision to stay proceedings or whether interim measures need to be adopted(41).

22. In order to ensure the efficiency of the co-operation with national courts, the Commission will endeavour to provide the national court with the requested information within one month from the date it receives the request. Where the Commission has to ask the national court for further clarification of its request or where the Commission has to consult those who are directly affected by the transmission of the information, that period starts to run from the moment that it receives the required information.

23. In transmitting information to national courts, the Commission has to uphold the guarantees given to natural and legal persons by Article 287 EC(42). Article 287 EC prevents members, officials and other servants of the Commission from disclosing information covered by the obligation of professional secrecy. The information covered by professional secrecy may be both confidential information and business secrets. Business secrets are information of which not only disclosure to the public but also mere transmission to a person other than the one that provided the information might seriously harm the latter's interests(43).

24. The combined reading of Articles 10 and 287 EC does not lead to an absolute prohibition for the Commission to transmit information which is covered by the obligation of professional secrecy to national courts. The case law of the Community courts confirms that the duty of loyal co-operation requires the Commission to provide the national court with whatever information the latter asks for, even information covered by professional secrecy. However, in offering its co-operation to the national courts, the Commission may not in any circumstances undermine the guarantees laid down in Article 287 EC.

25. Consequently, before transmitting information covered by professional secrecy to a national court, the Commission will remind the court of its obligation under Community law to uphold the rights which Article 287 EC confers on natural and legal persons and it will ask the court whether it can and will guarantee protection of confidential information and business secrets. If the national court cannot offer such guarantee, the Commission shall not transmit the information covered by professional secrecy to the national court(44). Only when the national court has offered a guarantee that it will protect the confidential information and business secrets, will the Commission transmit the information requested, indicating those parts which are covered by professional secrecy and which parts are not and can therefore be disclosed.

26. There are further exceptions to the disclosure of information by the Commission to national courts. Particularly, the Commission may refuse to transmit information to national courts for overriding reasons relating to the need to safeguard the interests of the Community or to avoid any interference with its functioning and independence, in particular by jeopardising the accomplishment of the tasks entrusted to it(45). Therefore, the Commission will not transmit to national courts information voluntarily submitted by a leniency applicant without the consent of that applicant.

2. Request for an opinion on questions concerning the application of EC competition rules

27. When called upon to apply EC competition rules to a case pending before it, a national court may first seek guidance in the case law of the Community courts or in Commission regulations, decisions, notices and guidelines applying Articles 81 and 82 EC(46). Where these tools do not offer sufficient guidance, the national court may ask the Commission for its opinion on questions concerning the application of EC competition rules. The national court may ask the Commission for its opinion on economic, factual and legal matters(47). The latter is of course without prejudice to the possibility or the obligation for the national court to ask the Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling regarding the interpretation or the validity of Community law in accordance with Article 234 EC.

28. In order to enable the Commission to provide the national court with a useful opinion, it may request the national court for further information(48). In order to ensure the efficiency of the co-operation with national courts, the Commission will endeavour to provide the national court with the requested opinion within four months from the date it receives the request. Where the Commission has requested the national court for further information in order to enable it to formulate its opinion, that period starts to run from the moment that it receives the additional information.

29. When giving its opinion, the Commission will limit itself to providing the national court with the factual information or the economic or legal clarification asked for, without considering the merits of the case pending before the national court. Moreover, unlike the authoritative interpretation of Community law by the Community courts, the opinion of the Commission does not legally bind the national court.

30. In line with what has been said in point 19 of this notice, the Commission will not hear the parties before formulating its opinion to the national court. The latter will have to deal with the Commission's opinion in accordance with the relevant national procedural rules, which have to respect the general principles of Community law.

3. The Commission's submission of observations to the national court

31. According to Article 15(3) of the regulation, the national competition authorities and the Commission may submit observations on issues relating to the application of Articles 81 or 82 EC to a national court which is called upon to apply those provisions. The regulation distinguishes between written observations, which the national competition authorities and the Commission may submit on their own initiative, and oral observations, which can only be submitted with the permission of the national court(49).

32. The regulation specifies that the Commission will only submit observations when the coherent application of Articles 81 or 82 EC so requires. That being the objective of its submission, the Commission will limit its observations to an economic and legal analysis of the facts underlying the case pending before the national court.

33. In order to enable the Commission to submit useful observations, national courts may be asked to transmit or ensure the transmission to the Commission of a copy of all documents that are necessary for the assessment of the case. In line with Article 15(3), second subparagraph, of the regulation, the Commission will only use those documents for the preparation of its observations(50).

34. Since the regulation does not provide for a procedural framework within which the observations are to be submitted, Member States' procedural rules and practices determine the relevant procedural framework. Where a Member State has not yet established the relevant procedural framework, the national court has to determine which procedural rules are appropriate for the submission of observations in the case pending before it.

35. The procedural framework should respect the principles set out in point 10 of this notice. That implies amongst others that the procedural framework for the submission of observations on issues relating to the application of Articles 81 or 82 EC

(a) has to be compatible with the general principles of Community law, in particular the fundamental rights of the parties involved in the case;

(b) cannot make the submission of such observations excessively difficult or practically impossible (the principle of effectiveness)(51); and

(c) cannot make the submission of such observations more difficult than the submission of observations in court proceedings where equivalent national law is applied (the principle of equivalence).

B. THE NATIONAL COURTS FACILITATING THE ROLE OF THE COMMISSION IN THE ENFORCEMENT OF EC COMPETITION RULES

36. Since the duty of loyal co-operation also implies that Member States' authorities assist the European institutions with a view to attaining the objectives of the EC Treaty(52), the regulation provides for three examples of such assistance: (1) the transmission of documents necessary for the assessment of a case in which the Commission would like to submit observations (see point 33), (2) the transmission of judgements applying Articles 81 or 82 EC); and (3) the role of national courts in the context of a Commission inspection.

1. The transmission of judgements of national courts applying Articles 81 or 82 EC

37. According to Article 15(2) of the regulation, Member States shall send to the Commission a copy of any written judgement of national courts applying Articles 81 or 82 EC without delay after the full written judgement is notified to the parties. The transmission of national judgements on the application of Articles 81 or 82 EC and the resulting information on proceedings before national courts primarily enable the Commission to become aware in a timely fashion of cases for which it might be appropriate to submit observations where one of the parties lodges an appeal against the judgement.

2. The role of national courts in the context of a Commission inspection

38. Finally, national courts may play a role in the context of a Commission inspection of undertakings and associations of undertakings. The role of the national courts depends on whether the inspections are conducted in business premises or in non-business premises.

39. With regard to the inspection of business premises, national legislation may require authorisation from a national court to allow a national enforcement authority to assist the Commission in case of opposition of the undertaking concerned. Such authorisation may also be sought as a precautionary measure. When dealing with the request, the national court has the power to control that the Commission's inspection decision is authentic and that the coercive measures envisaged are neither arbitrary nor excessive having regard to the subject matter of the inspection. In its control of the proportionality of the coercive measures, the national court may ask the Commission, directly or through the national competition authority, for detailed explanations in particular on the grounds the Commission has for suspecting infringement of Articles 81 and 82 EC, as well as on the seriousness of the suspected infringement and on the nature of the involvement of the undertaking concerned(53).

40. With regard to the inspection of non-business premises, the regulation requires the authorisation from a national court before a Commission decision ordering such an inspection can be executed. In that case, the national court may control that the Commission's inspection decision is authentic and that the coercive measures envisaged are neither arbitrary nor excessive having regard in particular to the seriousness of the suspected infringement, to the importance of the evidence sought, to the involvement of the undertaking concerned and to the reasonable likelihood that business books and records relating to the subject matter of the inspection are kept in the premises for which the authorisation is requested. The national court may ask the Commission, directly or through the national competition authority, for detailed explanations on those elements that are necessary to allow its control of the proportionality of the coercive measures envisaged(54).

41. In both cases referred to in points 39 and 40, the national court may not call into question the lawfulness of the Commission's decision or the necessity for the inspection nor can it demand that it be provided with information in the Commission's file(55). Furthermore, the duty of loyal co-operation requires the national court to take its decision within an appropriate timeframe that allows the Commission to effectively conduct its inspection(56).

IV. FINAL PROVISIONS

42. This notice is issued in order to assist national courts in the application of Articles 81 and 82 EC. It does not bind the national courts, nor does it affect the rights and obligations of the EU Member States and natural or legal persons under Community law.

43. This notice replaces the 1993 notice on co-operation between national courts and the Commission in applying Articles 85 and 86 of the EEC Treaty(57).

(1) For the criteria to determine which entities can be regarded as courts or tribunals within the meaning of Article 234 EC, see e.g. case C-516/99 Schmid [2002] ECR I-4573, 34: "The Court takes account of a number of factors, such as whether the body is established by law, whether it is permanent, whether its jurisdiction is compulsory, whether its procedure is inter partes, whether it applies rules of law and whether it is independent".

(2) Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2003 of 16 December 2002 on the implementation of the rules on competition laid down in Articles 81 and 82 of the Treaty (OJ L 1, 4.1.2003, p. 1).

(3) Notice on the co-operation within the network of competition authorities (OJ C 101, 27.4.2004, p. 43). For the purpose of this notice, a "national competition authority" is the authority designated by a Member State in accordance with Article 35(1) of the regulation.

(4) The jurisdiction of a national court depends on national, European and international rules of jurisdiction. In this context, it may be recalled that Council Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 of 22 December 2000 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgements in civil and commercial matters (OJ L 12, 16.1.2001, p. 1) is applicable to all competition cases of a civil or commercial nature.

(5) See Article 6 of the regulation.

(6) See Articles 2 and 3 EC, case C-126/97 Eco Swiss [1999] ECR I-3055, 36; case T-34/92 Fiatagri UK and New Holland Ford [1994] ECR II-905, 39 and case T-128/98 Aéroports de Paris [2000] ECR II-3929, 241.

(7) Joined cases C-430/93 and C-431/93 van Schijndel [1995] ECR I-4705, 13 to 15 and 22.

(8) According to the last sentence of recital 8 of Regulation (EC) No 1/2003, the regulation does not apply to national laws which impose criminal sanctions on natural persons except to the extent that such sanctions are the means whereby competition rules applying to undertakings are enforced.

(9) Case T-24/90 Automec [1992] ECR II-2223, 85.

(10) For further clarification of the effect on trade concept, see the notice on this issue (OJ L 101, 27.4.2004, p. 81).

(11) Article 3(1) of the regulation.

(12) See also the notice on the application of Article 81(3) EC (OJ L 101, 27.4.2004, p. 2).

(13) Case 14/68 Walt Wilhelm [1969] ECR 1 and joined cases 253/78 and 1 to 3/79 Giry and Guerlain [1980] ECR 2327, 15 to 17.

(14) Case 106/77 Simmenthal [1978] ECR 629, 21 and case C-198/01, Consorzio Industrie Fiammiferi (CIF) [2003] 49.

(15) E.g. a national court may be asked to enforce a Commission decision taken pursuant to Articles 7 to 10, 23 and 24 of the regulation.

(16) See e.g. case 5/88 Wachauf [1989] ECR 2609, 19.

(17) Joined cases C-215/96 and C-216/96 Bagnasco [1999] ECR I-135, 50.

(18) Case 63/75 Fonderies Roubaix [1976] ECR 111, 9 to 11 and case C-234/89 Delimitis [1991] ECR I-935, 46.

(19) On the parallel or consecutive application of EC competition rules by national courts and the Commission, see also points 11 to 14.

(20) Case 66/86 Ahmed Saeed Flugreisen [1989] ECR 803, 27 and case C-234/89 Delimitis [1991] ECR I-935, 50. A list of Commission guidelines, notices and regulations in the field of competition policy, in particular the regulations applying Article 81(3) EC to certain categories of agreements, decisions or concerted practices, are annexed to this notice. For the decisions of the Commission applying Articles 81 and 82 EC (since 1964), see http://www.europa.eu.int/comm/ competition/antitrust/cases/.

(21) Joined cases C-319/93, C-40/94 and C-224/94 Dijkstra [1995] ECR I-4471, 32.

(22) On the possibility for national courts to ask the Commission for an opinion, see further in points 27 to 30.

(23) On the submission of observations, see further in points 31 to 35.

(24) Case 106/77 Simmenthal [1978] ECR 629, 14 and 15.

(25) Case 68/88 Commission v Greece [1989] ECR 2965, 23 to 25.

(26) On damages in case of an infringement by an undertaking, see case C-453/99 Courage and Crehan [2001] ECR 6297, 26 and 27. On damages in case of an infringement by a Member State or by an authority which is an emanation of the State and on the conditions of such state liability, see e.g. joined cases C-6/90 and C-9/90 Francovich [1991] ECR I-5357, 33 to 36; case C-271/91 Marshall v Southampton and South West Hampshire Area Health Authority [1993] ECR I-4367, 30 and 34 to 35; joined cases C-46/93 and C-48/93 Brasserie du Pêcheur and Factortame [1996] ECR I-1029; case C-392/93 British Telecommunications [1996] ECR I-1631, 39 to 46 and joined cases C-178/94, C-179/94 and C-188/94 to 190/94 Dillenkofer [1996] ECR I-4845, 22 to 26 and 72.

(27) See e.g. case 33/76 Rewe [1976] ECR 1989, 5; case 45/76 Comet [1976] ECR 2043, 12 and case 79/83 Harz [1984] ECR 1921, 18 and 23.

(28) See e.g. case 33/76 Rewe [1976] ECR 1989, 5; case 158/80 Rewe [1981] ECR 1805, 44; case 199/82 San Giorgio [1983] ECR 3595, 12 and case C-231/96 Edis [1998] ECR I-4951, 36 and 37.

(29) Article 11(6), juncto Article 35(3) and (4) of the regulation prevents a parallel application of Articles 81 or 82 EC by the Commission and a national court only when the latter has been designated as a national competition authority.

(30) Article 16(1) of the regulation.

(31) The Commission makes the initiation of its proceedings with a view to adopting a decision pursuant to Article 7 to 10 of the regulation public (see Article 2(2) of Commission Regulation (EC) No 773/2004 of 7 April relating to proceedings pursuant to Articles 81 and 82 of the EC Treaty (OJ C 101, 27.4.2004). According to the Court of Justice, the initiation of proceedings implies an authoritative act of the Commission, evidencing its intention of taking a decision (case 48/72 Brasserie de Haecht [1973] ECR 77, 16).

(32) Case C-234/89 Delimitis [1991] ECR I-935, 53, and joined cases C-319/93, C-40/94 and C-224/94 Dijkstra [1995] ECR I-4471, 34. See further on this issue point 21 of this notice.

(33) See Article 16(1) of the regulation and case C-234/89 Delimitis [1991] ECR I-935, 47 and case C-344/98 Masterfoods [2000] ECR I-11369, 51.

(34) Case 314/85 Foto-Frost [1987] ECR 4199, 12 to 20.

(35) See Article 16(1) of the regulation and case C-344/98 Masterfoods [2000] ECR I-11369, 52 to 59.

(36) Case C-344/98 Masterfoods [2000] ECR, I-11369, 58.

(37) Case C-2/88 Imm Zwartveld [1990] ECR I-3365, 16 to 22 and case C-234/89 Delimitis [1991] I-935, 53.

(38) C-94/00 Roquette Frères [2002] ECR 9011, 31.

(39) On the compatibility of such national procedural rules with the general principles of Community law, see points 9 and 10 of this notice.

(40) On these duties, see e.g. points 23 to 26 of this notice.

(41) Case C-234/89 Delimitis [1991] ECR I-935, 53, and joined cases C-319/93, C-40/94 and C-224/94 Dijkstra [1995] ECR I-4471, 34.

(42) Case C-234/89 Delimitis [1991] I-935, 53.

(43) Case T-353/94 Postbank [1996] ECR II-921, 86 and 87 and case 145/83 Adams [1985] ECR 3539, 34.

(44) Case C-2/88 Zwartveld [1990] ECR I-4405, 10 and 11 and case T-353/94 Postbank [1996] ECR II-921, 93.

(45) Case C-2/88 Zwartveld [1990] ECR I-4405, 10 and 11; case C-275/00 First and Franex [2002] ECR I-10943, 49 and case T-353/94 Postbank [1996] ECR II-921, 93.

(46) See point 8 of this notice.

(47) Case C-234/89 Delimitis [1991] ECR I-935, 53, and joined cases C-319/93, C-40/94 and C-224/94 Dijkstra [1995] ECR I-4471, 34.

(48) Compare with case 96/81 Commission v the Netherlands [1982] ECR 1791, 7 and case 272/86 Commission v Greece [1988] ECR 4875, 30.

(49) According to Article 15(4) of the regulation, this is without prejudice to wider powers to make observations before courts conferred on national competition authorities under national law.

(50) See also Article 28(2) of the regulation, which prevents the Commission from disclosing the information it has acquired and which is covered by the obligation of professional secrecy.

(51) Joined cases 46/87 and 227/88 Hoechst [1989] ECR, 2859, 33. See also Article 15(3) of the regulation.

(52) Case C-69/90 Commission v Italy [1991] ECR 6011, 15.

(53) Article 20(6) to (8) of the regulation and case C-94/00 Roquette Frères [2002] ECR 9011.

(54) Article 21(3) of the regulation.

(55) Case C-94/00 Roquette Frères [2002] ECR 9011, 39 and 62 to 66.

(56) See also ibidem, 91 and 92.

(57) OJ C 39, 13.2.93, p. 6.

ANNEX

COMMISSION BLOCK EXEMPTION REGULATIONS, NOTICES AND GUIDELINES

This list is also available and updated on the website of the Directorate General for Competition of the European Commission:

http://europa.eu.int/comm/ competition/antitrust/legislation/

A. Non-sector specific rules

1. Notices of a general nature

- Notice on the definition of the relevant market for the purposes of Community competition law (OJ C 372, 9.12.1997, p. 5)

- Notice on agreements of minor importance which do not appreciably restrict competition under Article 81(1) of the Treaty establishing the European Community (de minimis) (OJ C 368, 22.12.2001, p. 13)

- Notice on the effect on trade concept contained in Articles 81 and 82 of the Treaty (OJ C 101, 27.4.2004, p. 81)

- Guidelines on the application of Article 81(3) of the Treaty (OJ C 101, 27.4.2004, p. 2)

2. Vertical agreements

- Regulation (EC) No 2790/1999 of 22 December 1999 on the application of Article 81(3) of the Treaty to categories of vertical agreements and concerted practices (OJ L 336, 29.12.1999, p. 21)

- Guidelines on Vertical Restraints (OJ C 291, 13.10.2000, p. 1)

3. Horizontal co-operation agreements

- Regulation (EC) No 2658/2000 of 29 November 2000 on the application of Article 81(3) of the Treaty to categories of specialisation agreements (OJ L 304, 5.12.2000, p. 3)

- Regulation (EC) No 2659/2000 of 29 November 2000 on the application of Article 81(3) of the Treaty to categories of research and development agreements (OJ L 304, 5.12.2000, p. 7)

- Guidelines on the applicability of Article 81 to horizontal co-operation agreements (OJ C 3, 6.1.2001, p. 2)

4. Licensing agreements for the transfer of technology

- Regulation (EC) No 773/2004 of 27 April 2004 on the application of Article 81(3) of the Treaty to categories of technology transfer agreements (OJ L 123, 27.4.2004)

- Guidelines on the application of Article 81 of the EC Treaty to technology transfer agreements (OJ C 101, 27.4.2004, p. 2)

B. Sector specific rules

1. Insurance

- Regulation (EC) No 358/2003 of 27 February 2003 on the application of Article 81(3) of the Treaty to certain categories of agreements, decisions and concerted practices in the insurance sector (OJ L 53, 28.2.2003, p. 8)

2. Motor vehicles

- Regulation (EC) No 1400/2002 of 31 July 2002 on the application of Article 81(3) of the Treaty to categories of vertical agreements and concerted practices in the motor vehicle sector (OJ L 203, 1.8.2002, p. 30)

3. Telecommunications and postal services

- Guidelines on the application of EEC competition rules in the telecommunications sector (OJ C 233, 6.9.1991, p. 2)

- Notice on the application of the competition rules to the postal sector and on the assessment of certain State measures relating to postal services (OJ C 39, 6.2.1998, p. 2)

- Notice on the application of the competition rules to access agreements in the telecommunications sector - Framework, relevant markets and principles (OJ C 265, 22.8.1998, p. 2)

- Guidelines on market analysis and the assessment of significant market power under the Community regulatory framework for electronic communications networks and services (OJ C 165, 11.7.2002, p. 6)

4. Transport

- Regulation (EEC) No 1617/93 on the application of Article 81(3) of the Treaty to certain categories of agreements and concerted practices concerning joint planning and co-ordination of schedules, joint operations, consultations on passenger and cargo tariffs on scheduled air services and slot allocation at airports (OJ L 155, 26.6.1993, p. 18)

- Communication on clarification of the Commission recommendations on the application of the competition rules to new transport infrastructure projects (OJ C 298, 30.9.1997, p. 5)

- Regulation (EC) No 823/2000 of 19 April 2000 on the application of Article 81(3) of the Treaty to certain categories of agreements, decisions and concerted practices between liner shipping companies (consortia) (OJ L 100, 20.4.2000, p. 24)

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