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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 Article 101 TFEU.  However, the text of the Article, does allow the Commission some margin of discretion on whether to impose fines or not.

When an undertaking is found to have participated in a cartel, it risks being subject to a fine.  Should that fine be disproportionate to the relevant undertaking’s ability to pay, the undertaking in question can request that its economic and financial situation are taken into account by the Commission when calculating the fine.

Granting “inability to pay” is subject to very strict conditions. 

The application must be done formally by way of a standard questionnaire.

  • 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 questionnare will be sent once an application for inability to pay is received by DG Competition.