Infringements of the EU antitrust rules (Articles 101 and 102 TFEU), such as cartels or abuse of a dominant position in the market, are not only detrimental for the economy and consumers at large: they also cause concrete harm (e.g. higher prices, lost profits) to concrete victims (e.g. infringers' direct and indirect customers, infringers' competitors and their customers).
The Court of Justice of the European Union has established that any citizen or business has a right to full compensation for the harm caused to them by an infringement of the EU antitrust rules.
However, in practice most victims, particularly SMEs and consumers, rarely obtain compensation. The right to compensation is an EU right, but its exercise is governed by national rules. These often make it costly and difficult to bring antitrust damages actions.
That is why in 2013 the Commission proposed a Directive to remove the main obstacles to effective compensation, and to guarantee minimum protection for citizens and businesses, everywhere in the EU. Following adoption by the ordinary legislative procedure, Directive 2014/104/EU on Antitrust Damages Actions entered into force on 26 December 2014. Member States need to implement it in their legal systems by 27 December 2016.
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