Bilateral cooperation between DG Competition and Switzerland is based on the EU-Switzerland trade agreement, the Air Transport Agreement (“ATA”) and the competition cooperation agreement.
The trade agreement between the EU and Switzerland of 1972, containing competition and subsidies related provisions. Article 23 of this agreement foresees the prohibition of:
- any state aid that could distort competition in promoting certain undertakings or certain branches of production,
- all agreements between undertakings, decisions by associations of undertakings and concerted practices that have as object or effect prevention, restriction or distortion of competition and
- abuse of dominant position.
The Air Transport Agreement(“ATA”), agreed between the EU and Switzerland in 2002, contains specific competition and subsidies provisions. Article 13 of the ATA states that any aid affecting the air transport sector granted by State resources in any form which distorts or threatens to distort competition by favoring certain undertakings is prohibited. It also contains specific exceptions to that principle (e.g aid of social character granted to individual consumers or aid to cover damages of natural disasters or exceptional occurrences). Regarding competition, Article 8 of the ATA foresees that all agreements between undertakings, decisions by associations of undertakings and concerted practices in the air transport sector that have as object or effect prevention, restriction or distortion of competition shall be prohibited. Article 9 of the ATA also prohibits abuses of dominant position in the air transport sector.
The second generation competition cooperation agreement in place between the EU and Switzerland, which entered into force in 2014. This agreement provides for:
- the reciprocal notification of cases under investigation by either authority, where they may affect the important interests of the other party;
- the possibility of coordination by the two authorities of their enforcement activities;
- the possibility for one party to request the other to take enforcement action, and for one party to take into account the important interests of the other party in the course of its enforcement activities; and
- the exchange of information between the parties, including– under certain conditions - the exchange of confidential information obtained by their respective competition authorities during the course of an investigation.