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Competition Policy

European Economic Area

The EEA agreement (Agreement on the European Economic Area) entered into force in 1994. It was concluded between the European Communities, all EU Member States and all EFTA (European Free-Trade Association) members.

The objective of the EEA agreement is to establish a dynamic and homogeneous European Economic Area, based on common rules and equal conditions of competition. The EEA agreement contains specific competition provisions, principally Articles 53 to 64, which mirror those of the EC Treaty.

The European Commission and the EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) share the jurisdiction to apply the EEA Agreement. The EFTA States have also established a court of justice (the EFTA Court) which can review decisions taken by the ESA. The division of competence is laid down in the EEA agreement (Articles 56 and 57) and its Protocols. In merger cases, the Commission has exclusive jurisdiction in the EEA to deal with all concentrations with a Community dimension, as defined in the EC Merger Regulation.

Cooperation between the European Commission and the ESA in competition matters is governed by the terms of Protocol 23 (cooperation between European Commission and ESA in cartel and dominance cases) and Protocol 24 (cooperation in the field of concentrations).

Key documents

Agreement on the EEA: Competition and other common rules

The Protocols to the EEA Agreement, in particular Protocols 21 to 25, provide further rules for the application of the EEA Agreement in the field of competition:

  • Protocol 21 - on the implementation of competition rules applicable to undertakings
  • Protocol 22 - concerning the definition of 'undertaking' and 'turnover' (Article 56 EEA)
  • Protocol 23 - concerning the cooperation between the surveillance authorities (Article 58 EEA)
  • Protocol 24 - on cooperation in the field of control of concentrations
  • Protocol 25 - on competition regarding coal and steel
  • Protocol 26 - concerning State Aid
  • Protocol 27 - concerning State Aid
  • Annex XIV - Competition

EC Advisory Committee meetings / EEA cooperation in Antitrust and Merger cases

Views of ESA and EFTA states' on Antitrust cases:

ESA and EFTA states have a right to be present in the Advisory Committee, convened in a case with EEA relevance. They do not have a right to vote but EFTA states can express a "view" on the case. These “views” are published on the EFTA Surveillance Authority website.

Views of ESA and EFTA states' on Merger cases:

ESA and EFTA states have a right to be present in the Advisory Committee when there is a "mixed case" as defined in Article 2 Protocol 24 to the EEA Agreement (turnover related – more than 25 % of total turnover in the territory of the EFTA states - or effect on the markets of the EFTA states). They do not have a right to vote, but EFTA states can express a "view" on the case. These “views” are published on the EFTA Surveillance Authority website.