(a) Horizontal agreements (arrangements between competitors)
Main idea: Collaboration in the form of arrangements or agreements between competitors which affect trade and aim to or result in preventing, restricting or distorting competition raise very serious competition law concerns.
Collusive behaviour. The form of the ‘anticompetitive arrangement’ is irrelevant. Not only written agreements but also oral commitments are prohibited. Such arrangements may even be presumed to exist in cases of suspicious behaviour of market parties. ‘Unexplainable’ anticompetitive behaviour or failure to act may even constitute evidence of concerted or coordinated practices (i.e. collaboration between companies with a view to eliminate or restrict competition in a certain geographical area or market segment). This includes behaviour that would not be seen as rational under normal competitive market conditions. Whenever competitors communicate and interact with each other, special attention is required to ensure that their external behaviour cannot be understood as anticompetitive.
The activities and behaviour described in the following subsections might seem very attractive for a business, but should carefully be monitored, discouraged or – in most cases – actively suppressed.