On 1 April 2015, the College of Competition Prosecutors (Auditoraat / Auditorat) of the Belgian Competition Authority (Belgische Mededingingsautoriteit / Autorité belge de la concurrence) ("BCA") decided to take no further action on a complaint targeting an alleged anti-competitive agreement between the administration in charge of prison labour (Centrale Dienst van de Regie van de Gevangenisarbeid / Service Central de la Régie du Travail Pénitentiaire) (the "Regie") and three federations of sheltered workshops.
The Regie is responsible for the employment of inmates through 33 workshops spread across Belgium. The federations of sheltered workshops, Entente Wallonne des Entreprises de Travail Adapté ASBL, Fédération Bruxelloise des Entreprises de Travail Adapté ASBL, and Vlaamse Federatie van Beschutte Werkplaatsen vzw ("the federations"), bring together sheltered workshops employing disabled workers. On 6 July 2012, Comptoir de Russie SPRL, which acts as an intermediary between companies seeking to use unskilled labour and prisoners workshops, filed a complaint with the College of Competition Prosecutors of the BCA against the Regie and the federations. Comptoir de Russie claimed that an agreement concluded between the Regie and the federations on 3 May 2011 with a view "to preventing more intense competition and fostering collaboration between both sectors" infringed competition law.
However, the College of Competition Prosecutors of the BCA decided to close the case without addressing this issue. The College based its decision on the fact that the federations formally ended their involvement in the agreement in 2013 and that the Regie announced in February 2015 that the agreement would no longer be implemented. In addition, the College noted that the services concerned did not belong to the list of enforcement priorities established by the BCA for the year 2015. Finally, the College added that the part of the Regie's turnover affected by the contested practices was limited.
For all these reasons, the College of Competition Prosecutors decided to close its investigation due to its enforcement priorities and available means, pursuant to Article IV.42 of the Code of Economic Law (Wetboek van Economisch Recht / Code de droit économique). However, the College made it clear that it could "not be inferred from its decision that such kind of agreements could be renewed in the future without the BCA finding it necessary to assess their possible violation of Belgian and European competition laws".
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