The Compatibility with Fundamental Rights of the EU Antitrust Enforcement System in Which the European Commission Acts Both as Investigator and as First-Instance Decision Maker
21 Pages Posted: 5 Dec 2013 Last revised: 17 Jun 2014
Date Written: December 3, 2013
Following the Jussila and Menarini judgments, it is now entirely clear that Article 6 ECHR, as interpreted by the European Court of Human Rights, provides no grounds for abandoning the system in which the European Commission both investigates suspected infringements of the EU antitrust prohibitions and takes decisions finding such infringements and imposing fines. Article 6(1) ECHR requires however that the EU General Court, when reviewing European Commission decisions, exercises full jurisdiction. What is decisive is whether the General Court in fact exercises full jurisdiction, not any general statements which the Courts may make as to its powers. It is nevertheless also important that the General Court is seen to exercise full jurisdiction. For this reason, potentially misleading general statements should be avoided. A number of internal checks and balances and procedural guarantees apply to the European Commission's administrative procedure, and regularly show their usefulness. This however in no way reduces the need for a full review by the General Court, when requested by the undertakings concerned. Indeed, the internal checks and balances and procedural guarantees derive their full effectiveness precisely from the possibility of a subsequent full review by the General Court.
Keywords: EU, antitrust, fines, fundamental rights, ECHR, judicial review
JEL Classification: K14, K20, K21, K40, K42, L40
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation