Until now, the Commission's most important tool in the fight against cartels and anti-competitive behaviour has been the Commission's programme on relief of fines. Under this programme, companies can report their own involvement in cartels and anti-competitive behaviour against a possibly reduced fine. A tool is now added to this programme according to which employees and other persons can anonymously disclose information to the Commission.
This new tool provides communication between the Commission and the anonymous person via an external provider serving as intermediary. Communication is encrypted so that the sender is not identified. The Commission can then answer anonymous inquiries and request details to use in a potential investigation without the sender revealing his identity.
The Commission believes that this may become an important tool in the fight against cartels and anti-competitive behaviour. The European Commissioner Margrethe Vestager says: "Insider knowledge can be an important tool in order for the Commission to uncover cartels and anti-competitive behaviour. Information can contribute to a fast and effective investigation to the advantage of the consumers and the EU economy."
The programme may be seen as an incentive to establish internal whistleblower systems where employees may make anonymous inquiries if they have knowledge of violation of the competition rules.
A similar programme is already available with the Danish Competition and Consumer Authority.