Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Regulation 1/2003: An Assessment After Twenty Years

Regulation 1/2003: An Assessment After Twenty Years



Wouter P. J. Wils

King's College London - The Dickson Poon School of Law; European Union - European Commission


Regulation 1/2003 brought about a radical change in the way in which the EU antitrust prohibitions contained in Articles 101 and 102 TFEU are enforced. The previous enforcement regime, under Regulation 17, which dated from 1962, was characterised by a centralised notification and authorisation system for Article 101(3) TFEU. Regulation 1/2003 abolished this system and replaced it by a system of ex post enforcement. The objectives of this reform were to allow the European Commission to become more active in the pursuit of serious infringements of Articles 101 and 102 TFEU, as well as to decentralise enforcement to the Member States’ competition authorities and to the national courts, while maintaining EU-wide consistency.

This paper provides an overview of the genesis of Regulation 1/2003, its objectives, and its main results, as apparent twenty years later. It finds that the decentralisation to the national competition authorities, cooperating with the European Commission and each other in the European Competition Network, has been a major success, beyond expectations. On the other hand, the prediction that the reform would lead to a significant increase in the number of prohibition decisions adopted by the European Commission has turned out to be too optimistic. Ten possible explanations for this lack of increase in the number of prohibition decisions are tentatively examined. Taking together the figures for the European Commission and the national competition authorities, however, there can be no doubt that Regulation 1/2003 has led to a spectacular increase in the enforcement of Articles 101 and 102 TFEU, and that Regulation 1/2003 has thus been a great success.

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