Saturday

19th Aug 2017

EU commission can seek own damages from cartel cases

  • The EU commission can claim damages from its own cartel rulings, according to the legal advice (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

The European Commission has the right to claim damages resulting from its own ruling on a lift and escalator cartel, according to a legal opinion issued on Tuesday (26 June).

The case, which marks the first time that the EU itself has sought damages, could pave the way for the Union to directly claim compensation from companies as a customer.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

However, it raises questions about a potential conflict of interest for the commission, which is itself responsible for ruling on anti-trust cases.

In February 2007, the commission imposed fines totalling €992 million on Otis, Kone, Schindler and Thyssenkrupp after judging that they had formed a cartel on lifts and escalators sold in Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

All four companies have since appealed to the Court of Justice in a bid to get the fines annulled.

The EU executive then brought a parallel case before the Brussels Commercial Court in June 2008, seeking damages of over €7 million against the four firms on the grounds that the EU had itself been short-changed by the cartel's price-fixing.

The case was passed on to the court for a legal opinion.

In a legal opinion, the Luxembourg-based court's advocate general Pedro Cruz-Villalon said that the commission is entitled to seek compensation against four companies responsible for installing the lifts and escalators in EU buildings in Brussels and Luxembourg. The commission claimed that it had overpaid as a result of price-fixing by the cartel.

Opinions by the advocate general are not binding on the court but are followed in most cases.

Cruz-Villallon commented that there was nothing in law to "preclude the Commission from bringing, on behalf of the EU, a claim for damages before the national courts, even though it was the commission itself which previously conducted an infringement procedure"

It added that is was for "national courts to declare and quantify the damage suffered by the EU as the result of anti-competitive conduct."

Meanwhile, EU competition boss Joaquin Almunia recently revealed that the commission had levied €614 million in fines from anti-trust cases in 2011, far below the €2.9 billion imposed the previous year.

But the commissioner said that the figure was set to "pick up again this year and in the more distant future."

Europeans more optimistic about EU since Brexit vote

Perceptions of the EU have increased significantly in France, and Europeans generally feel more optimistic about the future of the bloc since last autumn - despite Brexit and a surge in populism.

Investigation

Inside the Code of Conduct, the EU's most secretive group

The informal group of national officials that is in charge of checking EU countries' tax laws is now working on the first EU blacklist of tax havens, amid critiques over its lack of transparency and accountability.

Opinion

Setting course for strong and focused EU

From strengthening the internal market to completing the energy union, the prime ministers of Denmark, the Netherlands and Finland set out their vision for the EU.

Europeans more optimistic about EU since Brexit vote

Perceptions of the EU have increased significantly in France, and Europeans generally feel more optimistic about the future of the bloc since last autumn - despite Brexit and a surge in populism.

News in Brief

  1. Macedonia sacks top prosecutor over wiretap scandal
  2. ECB concerned stronger euro could derail economic recovery
  3. Mixed Irish reactions to post-Brexit border proposal
  4. European Union returns to 2 percent growth
  5. Russian power most feared in Europe
  6. Ireland continues to refuse €13 billion in back taxes from Apple
  7. UK unemployment lowest since 1975
  8. Europe facing 'explosive cocktail' in its backyard, report warns

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  2. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  3. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  4. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  5. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  7. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  8. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  9. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  10. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  11. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  12. ECPAFood Waste in the Field Can Double Without Crop Protection. #WithOrWithout #Pesticides