Competition puts businesses under constant pressure to offer the best possible range of goods at the best possible prices, because if they don't, consumers have the choice to buy elsewhere. In a free market, business should be a competitive game with consumers as the beneficiaries.
Sometimes companies try to limit competition. To preserve well-functioning product markets, authorities like the Commission must prevent or correct anti-competitive behaviour. To achieve this, the Commission monitors:
- abuse of a dominant position – where a major player tries to squeeze competitors out of the market
- agreements between companies that restrict competition – cartels or other unfair arrangements in which companies agree to avoid competing with each other and try to set their own rules
- mergers (and other formal agreements whereby companies join forces permanently or temporarily) – legitimate provided they expand markets and benefit consumers
- financial support (state aid) for companies from EU governments – allowed provided it does not distort fair and effective competition between companies in EU countries or harm the economy
- sectoral pages relevant to specific markets such as energy and the environment, financial services and information communication technologies
- cooperation with national competition authorities in EU countries (who are also responsible for enforcing aspects of EU competition law) – to ensure that EU competition law is applied in the same way across the EU