Competition rules play a significant role in the EU economy: they ensure that companies can do business on a level playing field and provide a greater variety of products and services to consumers at competitive prices and conditions. The principle of fair competition on equal terms is crucial for the proper functioning of the EU Single Market. Competition policy covers all forms of anticompetitive behaviour by companies, the risks to competition posed by mergers between companies, and activities of public authorities of the Member States that may distort competition, such as the granting of state aid.
The Commission is the principal enforcer of the EU’s competition rules. It has the power and responsibility to investigate suspected anticompetitive conduct, to issue prohibition decisions, to impose fines, and to conclude binding agreements with companies. In a system of parallel enforcement, the Commission also ensures that the national competition authorities of the Member States apply EU competition rules in a uniform manner. The Commission also plays an important role, together with the European Parliament and the Council, in drawing up EU competition rules.
The European Court of Auditors is currently examining whether the Commission has been effective in enforcing the EU’s competition rules in the specific areas of antitrust and merger control. The focus of the audit will be on how the Commission identified anticompetitive behaviour, how it conducted its investigations, and how it assessed and communicated the effectiveness and impact of its work on competition and the resulting benefits for citizens in the Single Market. Our work seeks to identify strengths and weaknesses and to highlight areas where changes could be beneficial.