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ECN has made improvements to the Model Leniency Program

The European Commission and the 27 national competition authorities in Europe have clarified and made improvements to its Model Leniency Program. Chris Fonteijn, chairman of the Board of the NMa, reacts: ‘We believe that the changes will reduce the administrative burden on businesses and competition authorities alike. In addition, the adjustments also make it easier for the competition authorities to decide who will handle what case.’ Under a leniency program, cartel participants may qualify for penalty reductions.

The competition authorities, which make up the European network of competition authorities (European Competition Network), will base their leniency programs on this model. The new Model Leniency Program, which replaces the previous one from September 2006, clarifies and simplifies the way businesses can submit their information, when submitting leniency requests with multiple competition authorities in the EU. The most important improvements are:

  • The system of ‘summary applications,’ which is like an ‘EU one-stop-shop’ for leniency, has been expanded. Previously, only the first applicant from a cartel that is active in more than three member states was allowed to use this system (if it submitted a full notification with the European Commission). Under the revised program, second and subsequent applicants from the same cartel are now allowed to use the system, too. The NMa’s leniency program already allows this.
  • A special template has been developed for submitting ‘summary applications.’ In addition, the ECN has published an overview of member states that accept ‘summary applications’ in English.
  • The term ‘secret cartel’ has been clarified. This term describes the conduct that the leniency rules apply to. Cartel activities may not always take place directly between competitors (horizontal conduct), as cartel activities could also include indirect contact between competitors through a mutual supplier or customer (so-called ‘hub and spoke’ cartels). Notification of this type of cartel with the NMa is already possible.

The website of ECN contains more detailed information. The Model Leniency Program may result in small adjustments to the NMa’s leniency program.