Ex Officio Investigations
According to Article 7 of Regulation 1/2003, the European Commission can act on its own initiative to find an infringement to Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).
What are ex officio investigations?
Ex Officio antitrust and cartel investigations are all the investigation activities started by the Commission on its own initiative, outside the context of the leniency programme or complaints procedure. The aim of these investigations is to detect and prosecute anticompetitive conduct.
Why does the Commission carry out ex officio investigations?
Carrying out ex officio investigations increases the level of deterrence, as the enhanced risk of detection will not only put an end to certain illegal conduct (and incentivise leniency applications) but also prevent companies engaging in new anticompetitive activities.
How does an ex officio investigation start?
Ex officio investigations can start from:
- intelligence collected through publicly available information;
- information obtained through cooperation with national non-competition enforcers;
- information received by the National Competition Authorities of Member States or by the Authorities of third countries with cooperation arrangements with the Commission;
- leads provided by informants (individuals or companies affected by or aware of the conduct);
- information reported via the Whistleblower tool;
- case or sector investigations.
What does the Commission do when it carries out an ex officio investigation?
When carrying out ex officio investigations the Commission can use all the investigative powers foreseen in Regulation 1/2003:
- power to conduct inspections (Art. 20, 21 and 22)
- power to request information (Art. 18)
- power to take statements (Art. 19)