The Competition Authority, similar to other authorities throughout Europe, guaranteed vigilance in detecting potential abuse or practices restricting competition that attempt to exploit the fragile situation arising from the current crisis.
In a somewhat opposite move, companies in the United Kingdom asked for certain competition rules to be loosened, in order to be able to cooperate with competitors and guarantee market operations. This involves, for example, the prohibition on sharing information on stocks. The British Government chose to temporarily “slacken” competition rules in the food sector, in particular to allow retailers to respond to extraordinary needs.
This appeal, echoed throughout Europe, led to a joint decision within the European Competition Network (comprising the different national Competition Authorities), in the sense that it would not actively intervene in any necessary temporary measures implemented by companies, for the purpose of avoiding any shortfall in supply. The national authorities will therefore differentiate between exploiting the precarious situation and the need to join forces to combat the current human and economic crisis.
However, the burden of complying with competition rules still lies with the companies. Clear guidelines exist in the sense that those companies with any doubts as to the legality of the measures they may adopt should informally consult the Commission, the EFTA Surveillance Authority or the Competition Authorities of the respective Member States.