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Competition Policy

Cartel Cases Settlement Procedure

The settlement procedure is a type of procedure that is used by the Commission to speed up the adoption of a cartel decision. 

The parties have to admit to their participation in the anticompetitive behaviour, and reach a "common understanding" with the Commission concerning the facts and the legal qualification of the parties’ conduct. The parties also have to commit to the maximum amount of the fine that may be imposed on to them by the Commission in the final decision.

In case of a successful settlement, the party receives a 10% reduction of its fine.

The settlement procedure applies to cartel investigations only. It is not applicable to any other antitrust procedure. 

The Commission benefits from a shorter, quicker administrative process, allowing for a more efficient use of resources in the Cartels Directorate and a reduced number of appeals to the Court.

Parties do not have a right to settle, the Commission may explore this possibility, if it considers that the case may be suitable for settlement. Parties are not obliged to enter into settlement discussions or ultimately to settle. If a party engages in a settlement procedure, but then the Commission or the party decides to discontinue the discussions, the Commission will follow a standard (normal) procedure. A hybrid settlement is when, in the same proceedings, the Commission adopts a decision against those parties following the settlement procedure, while it adopts a decision against those parties that discontinued the settlement procedure following the standard (normal) procedure.

The difference between settlement and leniency is that settlement is a procedural efficiency instrument while leniency is an instrument to gather evidence. A leniency application is not a pre-condition for a settlement request. A party, which has not applied for leniency, may also engage into settlement.

The Settlement Notice

How can documents be submitted during the settlement procedure?

For more information, go to the eLeniency page. This online tool can also be used in settlement procedures.