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The workshop is organized by the University of Amsterdam's Amsterdam Center for European Law and Governance, in cooperation with the University of Amsterdam's Center for Law and Economics (ACLE).

Detail Summary
Date 16 April 2010
Time 13:30 - 18:00

This workshop will analyze the administrative procedures in EC competition law as they were designed back in 1962 and how they were changed as a result of landmark cases from the European courts during the 1990s. The core aspect of the workshop is to scrutinize the procedural model of tripartite distinction between undertakings, the holders of a "legitimate interest" and holders of a "sufficient interest".

In particular, in the light of recent legislative reforms (Regulation 1/2003 and the modernization package) and case law developments (Österreichische Postparkasse and VKI), the workshop will inquire whether adversarial inter partes procedures are an appropriate model to serve the substantive interests that competition law rules are intended to pursue.

The workshop will further scrutinize whether and how this procedural model aligns with the present patchwork of various enforcement methods of EC competition law. For example, how consumers' participation rights relate with leniency applications, commitments and in particular, with private enforcement as an alternative avenue of redress.

Background "Consumers’ participation rights in competition law procedures"

Administrative procedures should be designed to give effect to substantive rules that pursue relevant social and economic interests or values. In fact, administrative decision-makers are called upon to implement, in each case, substantive rules and principles by which they are bound, with a view to attaining the social and economic goals established by the legislator. Accordingly, in European competition law the administrative procedures followed by the Commission should be designed to accommodate the core values of EC competition law, that is consumer welfare, market integration and economic freedom. However, these procedures seem to protect mainly the interests of the investigated undertakings.

Indeed, EC competition law procedures have been tailored following the archetype of judicial procedures. Hence as inter partes adversarial procedures between the Commission and the investigated undertakings. This model is in part justified by the nature of the administrative acts required by the enforcement of competition rules (investigation of the conduct of undertakings followed by an individual decision) and by the degree of severity of the ensuing decisions. In accordance with this conception of the procedure, the undertakings' rights of the defense, and, in particular, the right to be heard and the right to access the file, have been understood as fundamental procedural guarantees that protect the private sphere of the affected undertakings against arbitrary and disproportionate intervention by public authorities. This understanding of the administrative procedure explains why any other person having a legitimate interest or a sufficient interest in the procedure is considered to be a third party and is, as a consequence, not entitled to the same procedural rights and guarantees as those of the undertakings targeted by the final decision. As the ECJ has stated in BAT and Reynolds, the procedural rights of third parties are limited by the need to protect the rights of the defense of the investigated undertakings.

Another factor that significantly influenced and shaped the current procedural position of third parties in the enforcement of EC competition law was the CFI's judgment in Automec II. In this case the CFI freed the Commission of the obligation to give complaints priority treatment and allowed it to refer a matter that lacked sufficient Community interest to other avenues of redress, in particular to private damages claims before national courts. Accordingly, providing complainants with credible alternative redress mechanisms, primarily through the private enforcement of EC competition rules, became a precondition for the Commission's discretion and selection of enforcement priorities. Since 2004 the enforcement of EC competition law has been significantly changed and improved, not least in order to accommodate the criticism regarding its "prosecutorial bias". In contrast, the procedural model remained intact.


The following speakers have already confirmed:

Michael Albers, Hearing Officer, European Commission
David M. Ortega Peciña, BEUC - The European Consumer's Organisation
Onno Brouwer, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Amsterdam
Joana Mendes, Amsterdam Centre for European Law and Governance
Kati Cseres, Amsterdam Centre for European Law and Governance


The workshop programme is now available.

Date and venue

Friday, 16 April 2010, starting at 1 p.m.
University of Amsterdam, Doelenzaal, Singel 425


For more information, please send an email to