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Competition Policy

Inability to pay

Article 23(2) of Regulation 1/2003 provides that the European Commission may impose fines on undertakings or association of undertakings when they infringe Articles 101 or 102 TFEU. 

If there is a high risk that the payment of the fines causes the undertaking’s insolvency, the undertaking in question can request that its economic and financial situation be taken into account by the Commission when calculating the fine.

Granting a reduction for “inability to pay” is subject to very strict conditions, as spelled out in point 35 of the Fining Guidelines.

  • A reduction could be granted solely on the basis of objective evidence that imposition of the fine as provided for in the Guidelines would irretrievably jeopardise the economic viability of the undertaking concerned.
  • The fine causes the undertaking’s assets to lose all their value.
  • There needs to be a specific social and economic context.

The application must be done formally.

  • Application for inability to pay (.doc format) Applications must be sent to the comp-greffe-antitrustatec [dot] europa [dot] eu (Antitrust Registry), and to the COMP-ITPatec [dot] europa [dot] eu (inability to pay functional mailbox). Please label clearly your application as "application for inability to pay", and always indicate the case number, case name and the name of the applicant company. Please do not submit any further documents with your application for inability to pay.
  • Standard questionnaire for inability to pay (.pdf format). This questionnaire is a sample, provided for information only. The formal questionnaire will be sent once an application for inability to pay is received by DG Competition.
  • The Information note by Commissioners Almunia and Lewandowski of 10 June 2010 provides general guidance concerning inability to pay.