The Competition Act during the corona crisis – joint EU/EEA statement

The Norwegian Competition Authority has today joined a statement from the network of European competition authorities. The statement points out how certain competition law issues that may arise in the context of the corona crisis can be tackled. The Norwegian Competition Act is harmonised with the EU/EEA competition rules and the approach adopted by other competition authorities in Europe will therefore be adopted in Norway.– Todays’ joint statement is unique and shows that the competition authorities in all EU/EEA countries take the corona crisis very seriously. We are also in Norway concerned about the security of supply in especially for socially critical goods and services, and we see that there might be a need for more cooperation between businesses to ensure supplies than would otherwise be the case.  At the same time, we, as all other European countries, will watch out for anyone who may be exploiting the situation to raise prices. This includes the exchange of information regarding longer-term pricing or business strategies, where this is not necessary to meet the needs of the current situation, says General Director Lars Sørgard.

The European Competition Network (ECN), where Norway also participates, made the following statement today:

  • The ECN is fully aware of the social and economic consequences triggered by the COVID-19 outbreak in the EU.
  • The different EU competition instruments have mechanisms to take into account, where appropriate and necessary, market and economic developments. Competition rules ensure a level playing field between companies. This objective remains relevant also in a period when companies and the economy as a whole suffer from crisis conditions.
  • The ECN understands that this extraordinary situation may trigger the need for companies to cooperate in order to ensure the supply and fair distribution of scarce products to all consumers. In the current circumstances, the ECN will not actively intervene against necessary and temporary measures put in place in order to avoid a shortage of supply.
  • Considering the current circumstances, such measures would in any case appear unlikely to be problematic, since they would either not amount to a restriction of competition under Article 101 TFEU or generate efficiencies that would most likely outweigh any such restriction. If companies have doubts about the compatibility of such cooperation initiatives with EU competition law, they can reach out to the Commission or the national competition authority concerned any time for informal guidance.
  • At the same time, it is of utmost importance to ensure that products considered essential to protect the health of consumers in the current situation (e.g. face masks and sanitising gel) remain available at competitive prices. The ECN will therefore not hesitate to take action against companies taking advantage of the current situation by cartelising or abusing their dominant position.
  • In this context, the ECN would like to point out that the existing rules allow manufacturers to set maximum prices for its products. The latter could prove useful to limit unjustified price increase at the distribution level.

 Read the joint ECN Statement her.

 

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