The Resurrection of the Comfort Letter: Back to the Future?

Yearbook of Antitrust and Regulatory Studies, Vol. 15, No. 25 (2022)

12 Pages Posted: 10 May 2022 Last revised: 6 Sep 2023

See all articles by Selcukhan Unekbas

Selcukhan Unekbas

European University Institute - Department of Law (LAW)

Date Written: April 26, 2022

Abstract

Pandemic-induced economic shocks saw the European Commission and national competition authorities adopt so-called comfort letters to provide guidance, assurance, and legal certainty to undertakings in order to help mitigate the detrimental effects of the crisis. Whereas it is true that desperate times may call for desperate measures, the fact that the Commission continues to issue comfort letters for initiatives with little relevance to the ongoing emergency raises questions. This article analyzes the reemergence of comfort letters from the viewpoints of legal basis and certainty. It finds that the foundations upon which the letters are constructed are shaky, which translates into the fostering of uncertainty. In that regard, it explores alternatives for Union enforcers to deploy a robust bespoke guidance regime for the future.

Keywords: European Union, competition, comfort letter, guidance, legal certainty

JEL Classification: K21, L4, L5

Suggested Citation

Unekbas, Selcukhan, The Resurrection of the Comfort Letter: Back to the Future? (April 26, 2022). Yearbook of Antitrust and Regulatory Studies, Vol. 15, No. 25 (2022), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4094230 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4094230

Selcukhan Unekbas (Contact Author)

European University Institute - Department of Law (LAW) ( email )

Via Bolognese 156 (Villa Salviati)
50-139 Firenze
ITALY

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