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The Italian Guidelines on the Method of Setting Fines. A (Half) Step Towards Transparency and Deterrence

 |  October 15, 2015

Posted by Social Science Research Network

The Italian Guidelines on the Method of Setting Fines. A (Half) Step Towards Transparency and Deterrence Federico Cesare Guido Ghezzi (Bocconi University) & Gian Diego Pini (University of Milan)

Abstract: In this paper, we examine the new Italian Guidelines on the method of setting fines for antitrust law infringements in the broader context of Italian antitrust public enforcement.

The analysis of the new Guidelines is interesting for at least three reasons. Firstly, in drafting the new guidelines the Italian Competition Authority (ICA) adopted a comprehensive approach, taking into account that the method of setting fines may affect all the other elements of the sanctioning system. Thus, even if the Guidelines deal specifically only with the quantifications of fines, many elements of the new methodology have been designed to affect other important areas of the antitrust enforcement, particularly the leniency programs.

Secondly, the new Guidelines clearly witness a shift towards an antitrust enforcement system based on deterrence. Unfortunately, the ICA’s very formal interpretation of the notion of undertaking undermines, if not completely annuls, the efforts towards heavier fines on naked cartels and exclusionary abuses of dominant position.

Finally, in choosing the quantification method, the ICA largely followed the 2006 EU Guidelines on the method of setting fines. This should not come as a shock considering that Italian antitrust law closely mirrors Articles 101 and 102 TFEU. It should be pointed out, however, that the ICA resisted to the pleas of many commentators, urging it to follow other more lenient or in any case different national models. We think that, also in light of the allocation principles laid down in the Notice on the cooperation within the network of European Competition Authorities, a high degree of harmonization between the EU and the Italian antitrust sanctioning systems is beneficial to assure a level playing field for companies operating in the Italian markets.