On November 1, 2022, Switzerland and Germany signed an Agreement on cooperation between their competition authorities ("Agreement"). In terms of content, there are strong parallels to the Agreement between the EU and the Swiss Confederation concerning cooperation on the application of their competition laws, which entered into force in 2014.
Main content of the Agreement
The Agreement aims to ensure efficient enforcement of competition law in cross-border situations. The Agreement has been modeled after the Agreement between the European Union and the Swiss Confederation concerning cooperation on the application of their competition laws, which entered into force in 2014.
The Agreement will enable future cooperation between the Swiss Competition Commission ("ComCo") and the German Federal Cartel Office. In the future, they will be able to take coordinated enforcement action, e.g. coordinated dawn raids or exchange of confidential information and evidence. In addition to the service of the broadly defined sovereign acts, the Agreement also allows for the direct service of notices, requests for information and other letters that do not constitute sovereign acts in the respective other contracting state. The German Federal Cartel Office is also entitled to disclose information obtained under the Agreement (Art. 8) to the EU Commission. Disclosure of such information to the competition authorities of other EU states, on the other hand, requires the prior consent of the Competition Commission.
Outlook and conclusion
The Swiss Federal Assembly still has to approve the Agreement. After its entry into force, September 2023 at the earliest, an increase in parallel proceedings in cross-border cases in Switzerland and Germany is likely. In such proceedings, a uniform and coordinated procedural strategy for both countries will become more important. As the German Federal Cartel Office is particularly active in the data economy, the Agreement could become more significant than the cooperation Agreement with the EU already in force for companies especially in this particular sector.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.