EU di­rec­tive for car­tel dam­ages

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY DIM­I­TRA MANIFAVA

Cor­po­ra­tions and con­sumers will soon be able to seek dam­ages for losses or lost prof­its from car­tel ac­tiv­ity, ac­cord­ing to a pro­posal for a Euro­pean Union di­rec­tive that will likely be in­tro­duced dur­ing the course of the bloc’s Greek pres­i­dency.

This di­rec­tive is among the main pri­or­i­ties of the coun­try’s De­vel­op­ment Min­istry. Af­ter eight years of ne­go­ti­a­tions, it was adopted last June by the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, dis­cussed by the coun­cil of EU min­is­ters in De­cem­ber and its first read­ing at the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment will be on Jan­uary 27.

Ac­cord­ing to the pro­posal, a nec­es­sary con­di­tion for any­one to re­sort to a civic court to seek dam­ages will be the is­sue of a con­demn­ing de­ci­sion by the na­tional com­pe­ti­tion au­thor­i­ties on the op­er­a­tion of a car­tel or abuse of dom­i­nant mar­ket po­si­tion. Those seek­ing dam­ages will not have to make their case a se­cond time once the de­ci­sion has al­ready gone their way on a na­tional level.

There is still a gray zone sur­round­ing the is­sue of group cases (for ex­am­ple by con­sumer groups), as this has not been in­cluded in the pro­posal and proved to be a bone of con­tention dur­ing the years of ne­go­ti­a­tions about the di­rec­tive. What it does in­clude is the fa­cil­i­ta­tion of con­sumers’ or cor­po­ra­tions’ ac­cess to ev­i­dence that is usu­ally in the pos­ses­sion of those ac­cused or third par­ties. The pro­posal fur­ther pro­vides for a statute of lim­i­ta­tions as con­sumers or en­ter­prises will have be­tween three and five years to re­sort to jus­tice against car­tels – the pre­cise length of that pe­riod re­mains un­der ne­go­ti­a­tion.

As soon as the di­rec­tive is rat­i­fied, mem­ber states will have a grace pe­riod of two years to in­cor­po­rate it into their na­tional law. In Greece, the Gen­eral Sec­re­tariat for Con­sumers had in the past pre­pared a bill to that effect, but it never reached Par­lia­ment.

will have the first read­ing of the pro­posal for a di­rec­tive on dam­ages from car­tel prac­tices on Jan­uary 27.

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