The eighteenth activity report of the Competition Council gives an account of the activities undertaken in 2004: 101 decisions, two protective measures and 28 opinions.
When the report was presented to the press, the president of the council, Bruno Lasserre, stated that the institution wished to continue defending consumers while becoming more efficient by dealing with cases more swiftly. Lasserre underlined the fall in the number of cases currently under consideration at the council. This decreasing number is due notably to a more rigorous selection policy, which has allowed the council to avoid cases to which it would be unable to commit sufficient resources.
In 2004 the council imposed significant fines in connection with restrictive practices,1 or in cases of abuse of a dominant position.2
Failure to observe injunctions imposed by the council also gave rise to sizeable fines. The council imposed a fine of €20 million on France Telecom, considering that its failure to observe an injunction constituted a practice of exceptional gravity.3
Furthermore, 2004 saw the launch of the 'negotiated procedures' (ie, agreement, bargaining and clemency procedures).
The activity report also contains two themed proposals on (i) "remissions, rebates and returns in competition law", and (ii) competition and IP rights, an issue which was considered by the council on several occasions, as much in its role as litigant as in its advisory capacity.4
Finally, the report examines the activity of the council in relation to EU law when EU Regulation 1/2003 - which requires the compulsory application of EU law by national competition authorities - and the modernization package for its implementation entered into force. Thanks to the introduction of new procedures, the powers of the council have been aligned with those of other competition authorities. Moreover, the notification mechanism created to allow members of the European regulatory network to work together has shown its efficiency: out of the 51 cases introduced to the network by competition authorities in 2004, 27 were introduced by the council.
(1) For example, see Decision 04-D-39 on practices in the slaughter and butchered animals marketing sector, where the council imposed a fine of €1 million.
(2) For example, seee Decision 04-D-13 concerning practices of the Société des Caves et des Producteurs Réunis de Roquefort in the cheese sector, where the fine was €5 million.
(3) Decision 04-D-18 on the application of Decision 00-MC-01 of February 18 2000 regarding a request for protective measures by 9 Télécom Réseau.
(4) For example, see Opinion 04-A-09 on a draft decree on the commercialization of audiovisual exploitation rights of competitions and sporting events by professional associations.
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