The European Commission is empowered to send information requests to companies, enter the premises of companies, examine the records related to the business, take copies of those records, seal the business premises and records during an inspection, ask members of staff or company representatives questions relating to the subject-matter and purpose of the inspection and record the answers.
At the end of the initial investigative phase, the Commission can take the decision to pursue the case as a matter of priority and to conduct an in-depth investigation, or to close it. Alternatively to a prohibition decision the Commission may take a commitment decision under Article 9 of Regulation 1/2003. This is a quick way of restoring effective competition to the market.
Finally, as the Directorate General for Competition of the European Commission states, infringements of competition rules, such as price cartels and abuses of a dominant position in the market, are not only negative for the economy and consumers as a whole: they also cause direct harm to the infringer's customers and competitors (e.g. higher prices, lost profits). The European Court of Justice held that any citizen or business who suffers harm as a result of such breaches is entitled to compensation from the infringers. Thus, any citizen or business which suffers harm as a result of a breach of the EU competition rules is entitled to claim compensation from the party who caused it. This means that the victims of competition law infringements can bring an action for damages before the national courts.
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