EUは同65 (4) and (5)に基づき、2002年12月に罰金
今回、当時のECSCTreaty65(1)違反として、旧法に置き換わったEC Treaty competition rules (Articles 81 and 82) の執行手続き＝Articles 7 (1) and 23 (2) of Regulation No 1/2003により再度罰金を課した。
Antitrust: Commission re-adopts cartel decision in concrete reinforcing bar sector and fines eight Italian companies over Euro83 million
The European Commission has
re-adopted a decision on a cartel in the concrete reinforcing bar
コンクリート用棒鋼 sector in Italy, following the
annulment of the previous decision by the Court of First Instance
on 25 October 2007 for procedural reasons.
The new decision imposes a total of fines of euro83 250 000 on Alfa Acciai, Ferriere Nord, Feralpi, IRO, Leali, Lucchini, Riva Fire and Valsabbia for participating in the cartel, in violation of Article 65 (1) of the ECSC Treaty, in force at that time. The companies fixed various elements of the price of reinforcing bars, used for strengthening columns and other concrete structures in buildings, and limited or controlled the output and sales. The infringement lasted from December 1989 to May 2000. With one small exception, the fines adopted today are the same as those in the original decision.
Article 65 (1) of the ECSCTreaty 欧州石炭鉄鋼共同体
All agreements between undertakings, decisions by associations of undertakings and concerted practices tending directly or indirectly to prevent, restrict or distort normal competition within the common market shall be prohibited, and in particular those tending:
(a) to fix or determine prices;
(b) to restrict or control production, technical development or investment;
(c) to share markets, products, customers or sources of supply.
Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said: "With today's decision, the Commission has sent a clear message that cartel participants cannot escape fines for procedural reasons".
In December 2002, the Commission first found against a cartel in the sector for concrete reinforcing bars in Italy and adopted a decision on the basis of Article 65 (4) and (5) of the ECSC Treaty, which empowered the Commission to sanction cartel infringements in the steel sector. The Court of First Instance subsequently ruled that the ECSC Treaty - having expired at the time the decision was adopted - could not serve as a legal basis for its adoption.
4) Any agreement or decision prohibited by paragraph 1 of this Article shall be automatically void and may not be relied upon before any court or tribunal in the Member States.
The High Authority shall have sole jurisdiction, subject to the right to bring actions before the Court, to rule whether any such agreement or decision is compatible with this Article.
5) On any undertaking which has entered into an agreement which is automatically void, or has enforced or attempted to enforce, by arbitration, penalty, boycott or any other means, an agreement or decision which is automatically void or an agreement for which authorization has been refused or revoked, or has obtained an authorization by means of information which it knew to be false or misleading, or has engaged in practices prohibited by para
graph 1 of this Article, the High Authority may impose fines or periodic penalty payments not exceeding twice the turnover on the products which were the subject of the agreement, decision or practice prohibited by this Article; if, however, the purpose of the agreement, decision or practice is to restrict production, technical development or investment, this maximum may be raised to 10% of the annual turnover of the undertakings in question in the case of fines, and 20% of the daily turnover in the case of periodic penalty payments.
As a consequence, the Commission has now adopted a new decision, finding the same infringement, but based on Articles 7 (1) and 23 (2) of Regulation No 1/2003 on the implementation of the EC Treaty competition rules (Articles 81 and 82). These provisions form the general competition regime and apply to competition infringements in the steel sector since the expiry of the specific provisions governing the steel sector (the ECSC Treaty) in July 2002. The Court of Justice has confirmed this in two recent judgments .
The antitrust area covers two prohibition rules set out in the EC Treaty.
- First, agreements between two or more firms which restrict competition are prohibited by Article 81 of the Treaty, subject to some limited exceptions. This provision covers a wide variety of behaviours. The most obvious example of illegal conduct infringing Article 81 is a cartel between competitors (which may involve price-fixing or market sharing); For more information on cartels see the cartels section.
- Second, firms in a dominant position may not abuse that position (Article 82 of the EC Treaty). This is for example the case for predatory pricing aiming at eliminating competitors from the market.
Concrete reinforcing bars are long steel bars, usually with a ribbed surface, used for strengthening columns and other concrete structures in buildings.
The eight undertakings concerned accounted for around 30% of reinforcing bars produced in Italy in 1989 and for more than 80% in 2000, the number of market players having fallen during the cartel's life time from some 40 companies to less than twelve.
The eight undertakings concerned correspond to thirteen Italian companies, which have been fined as follows:
|Alfa Acciai S.p.A.||7, 175, 000|
|Feralpi Holding S.p.A. (formerly Feralpi Siderurgica S.p.A.)||10, 250 ,000|
|Ferriere Nord S.p.A.||20%||3, 570, 000|
|IRO Industrie Riunite Odolesi S.p.A.||3, 580, 000|
S.p.A. and Acciaierie e Ferriere Leali Luigi S.p.A.
in liquidation, jointly and severally
|6, 093, 000|
|Leali S.p.A.||1 ,082, 000|
S.p.A. and S.P. S.p.A. in liquidation (formerly
jointly and severally
|14, 350, 000|
|Riva Fire S.p.A. (formerly Riva Acciaio S.p.A.)||26, 900, 000|
Investimenti S.p.A. and Ferriera Valsabbia S.p.A.,
jointly and severally
|10, 250, 000|
The amount of the fines imposed in today's Decision is almost identical to that imposed in the annulled 2002-Decision, as the infringement is the same with one small exception: the fine for Lucchini has been reduced from euro16.14 million to euro14.35 million, because its relative size compared to the third largest addressee (Feralpi) has decreased
The amount of the fines has been set according to the 1998 Guidelines on Fines. Although the infringement was very serious, the Commission took account of the specific circumstances of the case, involving a domestic market which, during the period in question, was subject to the special rules of the ECSC Treaty and on which the undertakings concerned had, during the early part of the infringement, a limited market share.
The fines imposed on Riva and Lucchini reflect their overall size, much larger than the other undertakings concerned.
The fine imposed on Ferriere Nord is the result of a number of factors. On the one hand, its participation in the infringement was of a shorter duration than that of the other cartelists; on the other hand, the fact that the firm had already participated, in a cartel on welded steel mesh (condemned by the Commission in August 1989 ) was an aggravating circumstance. Finally, Ferriere was the only firm that provided the Commission with useful information on how the cartel operated and was granted a reduction of 20% of its fine under the Commission's 1996 Leniency Notice.
Action for damages
Any person or firm affected by anti-competitive behaviour as described in this case may bring the matter before the courts of the Member States and seek damages. The case law of the Court and Council Regulation 1/2003 both confirm that in cases before national courts, a Commission decision is binding proof that the behaviour took place and was illegal. Even though the Commission has fined the companies concerned, damages may be awarded without these being reduced on account of the Commission fine. A White Paper on antitrust damages actions has been published.