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Parliamentary questions
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2 May 2019
E-000408/2019(ASW)
Answer given by Ms Vestager on behalf of the European Commission
Question reference: E-000408/2019

In our competition enforcement, the ‘essential facility doctrine’ may require a dominant firm to share its assets with others, if an asset is ‘essential’ (indispensable) for others to compete effectively in the market and if refusing access would eliminate effective competition on that market and thus cause consumer harm.

This test requires a detailed case-by-case assessment of whether or not a data set is truly essential. It is therefore not possible to say that, in general, ‘data’, or ‘personal data’, is an essential facility.

Under the rules set out in Regulation 1/2003, the Commission can order changes to the structure of an undertaking if ‘there is a substantial risk of a lasting or repeated infringement that derives from the very structure of the undertaking(1)’. This type of structural remedy must be necessary to bring the infringement effectively to an end and it must be proportionate to this objective.

This means that, in order to impose such a remedy, the Commission first needs to establish the existence of an infringement, such as an abuse of dominance(2). Second, the Commission must establish that the risk of an abuse is inherent to the structure of the firm and that behavioural remedies would be insufficient or more burdensome.

Finally, under the EU Merger Regulation, the Commission can only revoke a decision under strict conditions, namely when the decision is based on incorrect information for which one of the undertakings is responsible or where it has been obtained by deceit. Should such a case arise, the Commission will assess it.

(1)Recital 12
(2)Dominance in itself is not illegal

Last updated: 2 May 2019Legal notice