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CONCERTED AGREEMENTS AND ABUSE OF DOMINANT POSITION : CONSUMER PROTECTION OUTWEIGHS PROTECTION OF COMPETITORS.

When applying Article 82 of the EC Treaty on abuse of dominant position, the European Commission will concentrate on consumer protection rather than on protection of competitors themselves. This principle is outlined in a guidance paper published by the EU executive, on 3 December. The aim is to make it clear to dominant undertakings "that they will find the Commission in their way wherever their conduct risks increasing prices, limiting consumer choice or dissuading innovation," warned Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes.

The document sets out the Commission's analysis framework for assessing the most frequently encountered forms of exclusionary conducts, such as exclusive dealing, rebates, tying and bundling, predatory practices, refusal to supply and margin squeeze. In addition to consumer protection, the main principles are as follows:

- sound competition, including by dominant undertakings, should be encouraged

- the Commission does not necessarily need to establish that the dominant undertaking's conduct has actually harmed competition, only that there is convincing evidence that harm is likely

- for pricing conduct, the Commission checks whether the conduct is likely to prevent competitors that are as efficient as the dominant undertaking and that can be expected to be most relevant to consumer welfare from expanding on or entering the market

- the Commission will examine claims made by dominant undertakings that their conduct is justified on efficiency grounds, as is already the case under Article 81 and for merger control.

The guidance paper is available at www.europolitics.info > Search = 239170

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Publication:Europe Environment
Date:Dec 11, 2008
Words:242
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