Anti-competitive practices: Brussels investigates fashion sector #719


The European Commission announced on Tuesday that it had carried out unannounced inspections at the premises of several companies in the fashion sector suspected of cartel activity “in several EU Member States”.

The EU’s competition watchdog did not say which companies had been targeted by the inspections, which were carried out jointly with the authorities of the countries concerned.

“The Commission is concerned that the companies concerned may have breached EU rules prohibiting cartels and restrictive business practices,” it said in a statement.

Investigations had already been launched almost exactly one year ago and in 2021 concerning the fashion sector. The investigators had looked closely at the actions of companies and designers who had participated in a call to transform fashion industry practices by 2020 and called at the time for a harmonisation of practices to develop more environmentally friendly approaches. An agreement that European antitrust specialists have been watching closely. As regards the investigation launched on 18 April, the Commission points out that the cases are different.

It also stresses that these visits, or requests for information from companies, “do not imply that the companies are guilty of anti-competitive behaviour and do not prejudge the outcome of the investigation itself”. However, these are preliminary steps to this type of investigation involving actors from different EU countries. No deadlines have been given for these investigations, with the Commission stressing that the duration of the investigations “depends on the complexity of each case”.

Anticompetitive practices are particularly in the sights of Brussels and could result in substantial fines. But companies that have participated in a cartel may benefit from immunity or a significant reduction in the fine if they report the practices and cooperate with investigators.

Fashion Network (with AFP)