With a carrot and a stick: fine discounts for cooperation return to abuse enforcement

On 20 September 2016, the European Commission fined Altstoff Recycling Austria (“ARA”) under Article 102 TFEU for abusing its dominant position in the Austrian waste management market by blocking its downstream competitors from reasonable access to its necessary upstream infrastructure.

What’s unique in this case is that the EC granted ARA a 30% discount for cooperating with the investigation. This has been the first time in over a decade that the Commission reduced a fine imposed in an abuse case, and is a clear signal to dominant companies: The Commission is prepared to acknowledge cooperation – but at the same time it wants to send a clear warning signal to the market by setting out the concrete infringement and fine the company (even if the fine is discounted).

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