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New rules at the EU – level on the functioning of the competition authorities of the Member States established by Directive (EU) 2019/1 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2018 to empower the competition authorities of the Member States to be more effective enforcers and to ensure the proper functioning of the internal market (J.O. L 11/14.01.2019)

This Directive sets out certain rules to ensure that national competition authorities have the necessary guarantees of independence, resources, and enforcement and fining powers to be able to effectively apply Articles 101 and 102 TFEU so that competition in the internal market is not distorted and that consumers and undertakings are not put at a disadvantage by national laws and measures which prevent national competition authorities from being effective enforcers.

According to the new Directive, national administrative competition authorities are able to conduct all necessary unannounced inspections of undertakings and associations of undertakings for the application of Articles 101 and 102 TFEU. The officials and other accompanying persons authorised or appointed by national competition authorities to conduct such inspections are, at a minimum, empowered:

  1. to enter any premises, land, and means of transport of undertakings and associations of undertakings;
  2. to examine the books and other records related to the business irrespective of the medium on which they are stored, and to have the right to access any information which is accessible to the entity subject to the inspection;
  3. to take or obtain, in any form, copies of or extracts from such books or records and, where they consider it appropriate, to continue making such searches for information and the selection of copies or extracts at the premises of the national competition authorities or at any other designated premises;
  4. to seal any business premises and books or records for the period and to the extent necessary for the inspection;
  5. to ask any representative or member of staff of the undertaking or association of undertakings for explanations on facts or documents relating to the subject matter and purpose of the inspection and to record the answers.

Member States shall bring into force the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with this Directive by 4 February 2021.

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