On October 12th, the European Commission carried out unannounced inspections at sites in several Member States of companies in the pulp industry.
The Commission is concerned that the companies inspected may have breached EU antitrust rules, which prohibit cartels and restrictive commercial practices (Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union). The Commission officials were accompanied by their colleagues from the relevant national competition authorities.
Cellulose is a dry pulp made from wood that is used in the manufacture of various paper products (tissue, stationery, cardboard, etc.).
Unannounced inspections are a first step in investigating suspected anti-competitive practices. The fact that the Commission is carrying out such investigations does not imply that the companies are guilty of anti-competitive behavior, nor does it prejudge the outcome of the investigation itself.
In its antitrust proceedings, the Commission fully respects the rights of the defense, in particular the right of companies to be heard.
The inspections were conducted in accordance with all coronavirus health and safety protocols to ensure the safety of those involved.
There is no legal deadline to complete investigations into anti-competitive behavior. Their duration will depend on a number of factors, including the complexity of the case, the extent to which the undertakings concerned have worked with the Commission and the extent to which they exercise their rights of defense.