Joint statement by the European Copmpetition Network on the application of competition law in the context of the war in Ukraine

2022-03-22
The European Competition Network (ECN), which connects the competition authorities of the EU Member States, has issued a joint statement on the application of competition rules in the context of the Russian aggression in Ukraine.

First of all, the ECN members have strongly condemns the Russian attack and expressed their support for Ukraine and its citizens. At the same time, they are aware of the social and economic impacts of these events not only on Ukraine but also on the countries of the European Union and the European Economic Area.

The responsibility to comply with competition rules which ensure equal market conditions is maintained even in crisis conditions. However, in the ongoing crisis situation, some undertakings may be forced to react to supply and market disruptions caused by the state of war or the subsequent economic sanctions reflected in the single market. This response may consist, for example, of: (1) cooperation between undertakings to secure the purchase, supply or distribution of scarce commodities and raw materials; (2) efforts to avoid serious economic consequences, including those resulting from sanctions imposed by the European Union.

Given the current situation, it seems likely that possible cooperation between undertakings seeking to eliminate the effects of the crisis will not reach an intensity which would constitute an infringement of the prohibition on anti-competitive agreements (pursuant to Article 101 TFEU), or  the distortion of competition will be fully balanced by the benefits of the conduct in question. However, ECN members will not take overly strong action against such cases in the current situation.

In case undertakings have concerns as to whether their cooperation is compatible with the competition rules, they can contact the European Commission or the national competition authorities with a request for consultation of their actions. On the other hand, ECN members point out that it is highly desirable that strategic products (raw materials, energy, food) remain available at prices that are the result of competition between undertakings and that the current crisis is not abused to distort the market environment. The competition authorities will not hesitate to act against undertakings which intend to take advantage of the current situation.

Antitrust: Joint statement by the European Competition Network (ECN) on the application of competition law in the context of the war in Ukraine ECN – Full Version

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