European Commission conducts competition probe
Written by Anthony Strzalek
The European Commission has confirmed that its officials carried out unannounced inspections in a few Member states concerning online access to bank account information by competing service providers.
Following the probe, which took place on October 3, the commission stated that it “has concerns that the companies involved and/or the associations representing them may have engaged in anti-competitive practices in breach of EU antitrust rules that prohibit cartels and restrictive business practices and/or abuse of dominant market positions”.
These alleged anti-competitive practices are aimed at excluding non-bank owned providers of financial services by preventing them from gaining access to bank customers' account data, despite the fact that the respective customers have given their consent to such access.
The commission officials were accompanied by their counterparts from the relevant national competition authorities.
Unannounced inspections are a preliminary step into suspected anti-competitive practices. The fact that the commission carries out such inspections does not mean that the companies or their associations are guilty of anti-competitive behaviour nor does it prejudge the outcome of the investigation.
There is no legal deadline to complete inquiries into anti-competitive conduct. Their duration depends on a number of factors, including the complexity of each case, the extent to which the parties concerned co-operate with the commission and the exercise of the rights of defence.