The European Commission can confirm that on 3 December 2013, Commission officials initiated unannounced inspections in several Member States at the premises of a number of companies active in the manufacture, distribution and retail of consumer electronics products and small domestic appliances. The Commission has concerns that the companies concerned may have violated EU antitrust rules that prohibit anticompetitive agreements or concerted practices (Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union – TFEU).
The Commission officials were accompanied by their counterparts from the relevant national competition authorities.
The Commission has grounds to suspect that the companies subject to the inspections may have put in place restrictions on online sales of consumer electronic products and small domestic appliances. These restrictions, if proven, may lead to higher consumer prices or the unavailability of products through certain online sales channels.
Unannounced inspections are a preliminary step into suspected anticompetitive practices. The fact that the Commission carries out such inspections does not mean that the companies are guilty of anticompetitive behaviour, nor does it prejudge the outcome of the investigation itself. The Commission respects the rights of defence, in particular the right of companies to be heard in antitrust proceedings.
The Commission does not make public the names of the companies inspected at this stage.
There is no legal deadline to complete inquiries into anticompetitive conduct. Their duration depends on a number of factors, including the complexity of each case, the extent to which the undertakings concerned co-operate with the Commission and the exercise of the rights of defence.