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EU Commissioner Monti and Minister Jorritsma at the Opening of NMa's Offices: Co-operation between Competition Authorities Increasingly Important

Creating a network of national competition authorities is of considerable importance for the uniform application of European competition rules. The importance of this will increase when new rules are approved at the end of this year, which will decentralise responsibilities away from Brussels and towards national competition authorities. This statement was made by Professor M. Monti, the European Commissioner for Competition, during his speech on the occasion of the official opening of the new office building of the Netherlands Competition Authority (NMa) on Wijnhaven in The Hague. The network adds to the possibility of exchanging information, working together in individual cases and agreeing who will lead which cases if a case involves a number of countries at the same time.

Mrs Jorritsma, the Minister of Economic Affairs, emphasised the importance of the European network. She gave special attention to the role of the courts, which under the new system will even be able to assess cross-border agreements against the prohibition on cartels. She also called on national courts to set up a network together with their colleagues in surrounding countries to exchange experience.

Mr A.W. Kist, Director-General of NMa, emphasised the importance of openness on the part of the regulator in its law-enforcement activities, but also referred to the necessity to be closed. NMa has an information line, guidelines and consultation documents. However, NMa must sometimes work behind closed doors if this is in the interests of an investigation or if confidential company information is involved. These principles also apply to NMa in its new premises in the heart of The Hague.

Prof. L.A. Geelhoed, Advocate-General of the Court of Justice, provided an overview of the development from sector-specific policy towards a policy with a greater emphasis on the operation of market forces. In his speech he underlined, for instance, the importance of a number of preconditions from the perspective of the public interest.