The EU Competition Law Fining System: A Reassessment

59 Pages Posted: 3 Oct 2011 Last revised: 10 Jan 2012

See all articles by Damien Geradin

Damien Geradin

Tilburg Law and Economics Center (TILEC); University of East Anglia (UEA) - Centre for Competition Policy; Geradin Partners

Date Written: October 3, 2011


The objectives of this paper are to: (i) describe the fining policy of the European Commission for breach of EU competition rules; (ii) assess this policy in light of the criticisms that have been made by academics, practitioners and other stakeholders; and (iii) to the extent these criticisms are justified, make concrete proposals to improve the Commission’s fining policy.

This discussion paper does not suggest that undertakings that have breached EU competition rules should get off the hook lightly. Sanctions should be part of all legal regimes and this is also true for competition law. Because of the severe harm that can be created by competition law infringements, sanctions for such infringements must be sufficiently strict to ensure deterrence. Yet, it is questionable whether the imposition of increasingly high corporate fines is the most effective way to improve compliance with EU competition law. Against this background, the proposals made in this discussion paper seek to improve the efficiency and fairness of the sanctions imposed in case of infringement, and ensure that they are made at the least cost to society. Some of these proposals are easier to implement than others, and it is not suggested that all proposals should be implemented at once.

Keywords: antitrust, infringement, fines, criminal sanctions, European Union, director disqualification, cartels, penalties, enforcement policy, competition law

JEL Classification: K10, K21, K42, l 40

Suggested Citation

Geradin, Damien, The EU Competition Law Fining System: A Reassessment (October 3, 2011). TILEC Discussion Paper No. 2011-052, Available at SSRN: or

Damien Geradin (Contact Author)

Tilburg Law and Economics Center (TILEC) ( email )

Warandelaan 2
Tilburg, 5000 LE

University of East Anglia (UEA) - Centre for Competition Policy ( email )

Norwich Research Park
Norwich, Norfolk NR47TJ
United Kingdom

Geradin Partners ( email )

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