European Interest

EU calls for comments on cartels

Flickr/Stuart Pinfold/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
A view of the Berlaymont, the headquarters of the European Commission.

The European Commission on July 5 called on stakeholders to comment on draft guidelines to help national courts estimate the share of price increases caused by a cartel that are passed on to indirect purchasers and final consumers.

Brussels will be taking views and comments until October 4.

According to a Commission press release, the Antitrust Damages Directive helps citizens and companies claim damages if they are victims of infringements of EU antitrust rules. This applies not only to direct customers of companies found participating in a cartel, but also to indirect customers and final consumers. These may also suffer harm when direct customers are able to fully or partially pass on a cartel overcharge further down the supply chain.

It is for national courts to decide upon the level of such compensation, on a case by case basis. However, determining the exact amount of overcharges passed on to indirect customers can be difficult. This is why the Damages Directive foresees that the Commission shall issue non-binding guidelines to help national courts estimate the share of the overcharge passed on to indirect purchasers.

The draft guidelines describe the procedural instruments available to national courts when assessing the existence of overcharges passed on to indirect customers, as well as the national courts’ power to estimate the amount of the overcharge that was passed on. The guidelines also provide an overview of the most common economic methods and techniques to quantify passed-on overcharges and are intended to complement the Practical Guide on Quantifying Harm issued in 2013.

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