Why are cartels harmful to consumers, businesses and to the economy in general?
Cartels shield participants from competition allowing them to charge higher prices and removing the pressure on them to improve the products they sell or find more efficient ways in which to produce them. It is the customers (companies and consumers) who foot the bill in terms of paying higher prices for lower quality and narrower choice. This not only makes consumers and businesses suffer but also adversely affects the competitiveness of the economy as a whole. What legal basis underpins the Commission’s action to combat cartels? Article 81 of the Treaty establishing the European Community prohibits agreements and concerted practices between firms that distort competition within the Single Market. Fines of up to 10% of their worldwide turnover may be imposed on the guilty parties. What happens to the proceeds from fines? The amount of the fines is paid into the Community budget. The fines therefore help to finance the European Union and reduce the tax burden on individuals. Does the C