Deterring EU Competition Law Infringements: Are We Using the Right Sanctions?

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In a conference organised on 3 December in Brussels, the Tilburg Law & Economics Centre (TILEC) and the Liège Competition Innovation Institute (LCII), prominent academics, regulators and practitioners discussed differing approaches to sanctions in competition law. The high-level full-day conference "Deterring Competition Law Infringements: Are We Using the Right Sanctions" was designed to bring detailed analysis and up-to-date knowledge about emerging trends in optimal deterrence and sanctions. The results contained in these interviews send a signal on the need for a modern approach to cartel sanctioning policies and procedures in order to achieve the EU's stated goal of higher deterrence. 
 
Competition law regimes across the world have typically relied on a diverse set of sanctions to deter companies from engaging in anti-competitive behaviour. In contrast the EU competition law regime has so far focused on ever increasing levels of corporate fines, stemming to a large extent from the Commission's desire to increase deterrence. 
 
However, a growing number of voices are questioning whether increasing the level of corporate fines is indeed the most appropriate means for increasing deterrence. Other criticisms of the EU's sanctioning regime allege a high level of uncertainty, raise questions about its compatibility with international instruments protecting due process, criticise its lack of consideration for corporate compliance programs and the quasi-automatic finding of parental liability. A key criticism laments the absence of individual sanctions targeting the individuals who are the perpetrators of an antitrust violation.

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