In order to ensure a fair and efficient market, the EEA Agreement contains competition rules which apply to all undertakings throughout the EEA. The competition rules under the EEA Agreement correspond to those in the EU and can be summarised as follows:
- A prohibition on agreements or practices that distort or restrict competition, with certain exceptions;
- A prohibition on the abuse of a dominant position by market participants;
- The requirement that prior clearance be obtained for certain large mergers and other concentrations of undertakings, and
- Restrictions on certain state measures that may result in infringement of the competition rules.
The EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) is responsible for ensuring that these rules are applied within the EEA EFTA States. However, when a case has appreciable implications for competition in the EU as well, it is handled primarily by the European Commission. Both ESA and the European Commission have extensive powers to ensure that the rules are complied with, including the right to fine companies.
The EFTA Working Group on Competition Policy meets regularly.
The EEA competition rules are laid down by:
- Part IV, Chapter 1 of the EEA Agreement
- Annex XIV of the EEA Agreement
- Protocols 21, 22, 23, 24 & 25 to the EEA Agreement
- Protocol 4 to the Surveillance and Court Agreement