The Working Group on Competition Policy is responsible for the legislation contained in Annex XIV and Protocols 21-25 of the EEA Agreement. Articles 53 - 60 of the EEA Agreement covers competition. Protocol 4 to the Surveillance and Court Agreement covers the powers of ESA in the field of competition.
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 Working Group on Competition Policy meets regularly and actively follows EU initiatives within the field of competition.