- Cartels — Commission's leniency policy — Immunity — Reduction in fine — Application of EU competition rules — National Competition Authorities (NCAs) — Cooperation with ECN
This chapter is concerned with cartel detection, through market monitoring, inspections, or well-designed leniency programs. It analyses three methods competition authorities regularly use to detect, and adduce evidence about, cartels. First, competition authorities can detect cartels by monitoring and screening markets. Second, competition authorities can conduct inspections at the business premises or private homes of cartel participants. Third, given the limitations of the first two methods, competition authorities can incentivize companies to report the cartels in which they may be involved by rewarding them for their cooperation. Pursuant to so-called leniency programmes, companies that choose to cooperate will, depending on the quality of the information provided and the time at which it is provided, benefit from full immunity from fines or significant fine reductions (partial immunity). Following in the footsteps of the US Department of Justice, the European Commission adopted a Leniency Notice in 1996, the application of which has allowed it to uncover a vast number of cartels.
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