The ECN+ Directive: An Example of Decentralised Cooperation to Enforce Competition Law

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Table of Contents: I. Introduction. – II. The road to the ECN+. – II.1. Regulation 1/2003. – II.2. Success and shortcomings of Regulation 1/2003. – II.3. Actions taken to address the shortcomings. – III. The ECN+ Directive. – III.1. Institutional security of NCAs. – III.2. Harmonised power to investigate and sanction. – III.3. Dissuasive fines. – III.4. Leniency programs. – III.5. Mutual assistance. – IV. Decentralised cooperation as a role-model leading to an ever closer union? – IV.1. Is the decentralised enforcement of competition law after the ECN+ to be considered as a well-functioning system? – IV.2. Can a decentralised enforcement system contribute to an ever closer union? – IV.3. Does the system under the ECN+ serve as a role-model for other areas, too? – V. Conclusion.

Abstract: Present Article deals with Directive 1/2019 which intends to harmonise public enforcement regimes of EU competition law in the Member States. The Directive does so by harmonising and complementing the existing decentralised system of competition law enforcement and empowering the competition authorities in the Member States to be more effective enforcers. In light of the overall topic “Shaping the Future of Europe”, the Directive will be tested regarding its possibilities to contribute to more effectiveness, acceptance and ultimately deeper integration. It is concluded that the system complemented by Directive 1/2019 can overall be considered a success, multiplying enforcers and thus strengthening enforcement. With the preconditions of uniform – and uniformly interpreted – substantive law, well-equipped expert authorities as well as close cooperation within a network, it could, furthermore, even contribute to an ever closer union and serve as a role-model for other areas, too.

Keywords: EU competition law – ECN+ Directive – competition authorities – networks – public enforcement – ever closer union.

European Papers, Vol. 6, 2021, No 2, pp. 987-1013
2499-8249 - doi: 10.15166/2499-8249/510

* University Assistant, University of Vienna,


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