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Competition Policy

Ex officio investigations

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 (including market monitoring exercises);
  • information received from the National Competition Authorities of Member States or the Authorities of third countries;
  • leads, and market intelligence provided by individuals or companies including informal complaints;
  • information obtained through cooperation with national non-competition enforcers;
  • 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)