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Competition Policy

Hearing Officers' mission - Right to access the file

Article 41 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union includes "the right of every person to have access to his or her file, while respecting the legitimate interests of confidentiality and of professional and business secrecy."

The purpose of access to the file is to allow addressees of a statement of objections to acquaint themselves with the evidence so that they can express their views effectively on the Commission’s preliminary conclusions. Access to the file is an integral part of the parties’ right to be heard. In principle, the parties are granted access to the whole investigation file. The only valid grounds for denying access to documents are their internal or confidential nature.

The Hearing Officer decides on disputes between the parties, the information providers and the Commission services responsible over access to information contained in the Commission’s file.

The Hearing Officer also decides on: requests by other involved parties in merger proceedings to be informed of the objections addressed to the notifying parties; requests by complainants in antitrust proceedings pursuant to Article 8(1) of Regulation 773/2004 for access to the documents on which the Commission bases its intention to reject the complaint; requests by complainants in antitrust proceedings to receive an adequate non-confidential version of the statement of objections; and, requests by interested third persons in antitrust or merger proceedings to be informed of the nature and subject matter of the procedure.