The EU cooperates with the US competition authorities - the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission - primarily on the basis of the 1991 Cooperation Agreement and the 1998 "Positive Comity Agreement". In addition, ad hoc cooperation can take place with State Attorney General offices.
1991 EU-US Competition Cooperation Agreement
This agreement provides for:
- reciprocal notification of cases under investigation by either authority, where they may affect the important interests of the other authority (Article II);
- the exchange of information on general matters relating to the implementation of the competition rules (Article III);
- the regular bilateral meetings to discuss enforcement activities and priorities, policy changes and other matters of mutual interest relating to the application of competition laws (Article III);
- coordination by the two authorities of their enforcement activities (Article IV);
- a procedure for one authority to request the other to take enforcement action, (Article V);
- a procedure for one authority to take into account the important interests of the other party in the course of its enforcement activities (Article VI).
1998 EU-US Positive Comity Agreement
Under the rules of positive comity, one party may request the other party to remedy anti-competitive behavior, which originates in its jurisdiction but affects the requesting party as well. The agreement clarifies both the mechanics of the positive comity cooperation instrument, and the circumstances in which it can be availed of.
1999 Administrative Arrangement on Attendance (AAA)
The AAA sets forth administrative arrangements between both competition authorities concerning reciprocal attendance at certain stages of the procedures in individual cases, involving the application of their respective competition rules. These arrangements further clarify the implementation of the agreements between the EU and the US concerning enforcement of their competition rules, and in particular the provisions regarding co-ordination of enforcement activities.
2011 EU-US Best Practices on Cooperation in Merger Investigations
In 2002, a set of best practices on cooperation in reviewing mergers was agreed. These best practices were updated and revised in 2011. The best practices are not legally binding; they rather set forth an advisory framework for interagency cooperation in reviews of individual merger cases.
The best practices recognise that cooperation is most effective when the investigation timetables of the reviewing agencies run more or less in parallel. Merging companies will therefore be offered the possibility of meeting at an early stage with the agencies to discuss timing issues. Companies are also encouraged to permit the agencies to exchange information, which they have submitted during the course of an investigation and, where appropriate, to allow joint EU/US interviews of the companies concerned. The best practices designate key points in the respective EU and US merger investigations when it may be appropriate for direct contacts to occur between senior officials on both sides.
EU-US Joint Technology Competition Policy Dialogue (TCPD)
On 7 December 2021, the European Commission, the US Federal Trade Commission and the US Department of Justice launched the EU-US Joint Technology Competition Policy Dialogue (TCPD), followed by a joint statement. The TCPD will focus on developing common approaches and strengthening the cooperation on competition policy and enforcement in the technology sector.