The ECN+ Directive was published on 14 January 2019. The transposition of the Directive will improve the decentralised system of enforcement of EU competition rules put in place by Regulation (EC) No. 1/2003 and boost the effective enforcement of EU competition rules. It will further underpin close cooperation in the European Competition Network. The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC), ComReg, the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Irish Courts are National Competition Authorities (NCAs) in Ireland for the purposes of EU competition law.
The ECN+ Directive ensures that NCAs:
1. have effective investigation and decision-making tools
2. are able to impose effective deterrent fines
3. have a leniency programme in place which facilitates application for leniency in multiple jurisdictions, and
4. have sufficient resources and can enforce the EU competition rules independently.
It is intended to transpose the ECN+ Directive by primary legislation and it is intended that the Directive will be transposed into national law by the deadline of 4 February 2021.
My Department undertook a public consultation on the proposed Directive in May 2017. Six replies were received to that consultation, including replies from the CCPC and ComReg. My Department is also in consultation with the CCPC and ComReg on how best to confer the powers given by the Directive to NCAs. In addition, my Department will be working closely with the Attorney General’s Office on the transposition of the Directive, including matters such as the introduction of non-criminal sanctions and the leniency programme, which are not currently provided for in Irish competition law.