Antitrust: Commission fines Scania €880 million for participating in trucks cartel
Brussels, 27 September 2017
The European Commission has found that Scania broke EU antitrust rules. It colluded for 14 years with five other truck manufacturers on truck pricing and on passing on the costs of new technologies to meet stricter emission rules. The Commission has imposed a fine of €880 523 000 on Scania.
In July 2016, the Commission reached a settlement decision concerning the trucks cartel with MAN, DAF, Daimler, Iveco and Volvo/Renault. Scania decided not to settle this cartel case with the Commission, unlike the other five participants in the trucks cartel. As a result, the Commissions investigation against Scania was carried out under the standard cartel procedure.
Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager, said: “Todays decision marks the end of our investigation into a very long lasting cartel - 14 years. This cartel affected very substantial numbers of road hauliers in Europe, since Scania and the other truck manufacturers in the cartel produce more than 9 out of every 10 medium and heavy trucks sold in Europe. These trucks account for around three quarters of inland transport of goods in Europe and play a vital role in the European economy. Instead of colluding on pricing, the truck manufacturers should have been competing against each other - also on environmental improvements."
Road haulage is an essential part of the European transport sector and its competitiveness depends on truck prices. Todays decision relates specifically to the market for the manufacturing of medium (weighing between 6 to 16 tons) and heavy trucks (weighing over 16 tons).
The Commissions investigation revealed that Scania, as a producer of heavy trucks, had engaged in a cartel relating to:
■coordinating prices at "gross list" level for medium and heavy trucks in the European Economic Area (EEA). The "gross list" price level relates to the factory price of trucks, as set by each manufacturer. Generally, these gross list prices are the basis for pricing in the trucks industry. The final price paid by buyers is then based on further adjustments, done at national and local level, to these gross list prices.
■the timing for the introduction of emission technologies for medium and heavy trucks to comply with the increasingly strict European emissions standards (from Euro III through to the currently applicable Euro VI)
■the passing on to customers of the costs for the emissions technologies required to comply with the increasingly strict European emissions standards (from Euro III through to the currently applicable Euro VI).
The infringement covered the entire EEA and lasted 14 years, from 1997 until 2011, when the Commission carried out unannounced inspections of the firms. Between 1997 and 2004, meetings were held at senior manager level, sometimes at the margins of trade fairs or other events. This was complemented by phone conversations. From 2004 onwards, the cartel was organised via the truck producers German subsidiaries, with participants generally exchanging information electronically.
Over the 14 years the discussions between the companies covered the same topics, namely the respective "gross list" price increases, timing for the introduction of new emissions technologies and the passing on to customers of the costs for the emissions technologies.
Emissions standards compliance
The collusion identified by the Commission concerned the new emission technologies required by the Euro III to Euro VI environmental standards, specifically coordination on timing and coordination on passing on of costs of emission technologies for trucks compliant with newly introduced emissions standards. The collusion was not aimed at avoiding or manipulating compliance with the new emission standards.
The Commissions investigation did not reveal any links between this cartel and allegations or practices on circumventing the anti-pollution system of certain vehicles (commonly referred to as "defeat devices").
Todays decision underlines the importance of a functioning competitive market to foster the development and dissemination of cost-efficient low-emission technologies, which is one of the elements of the upcoming European Strategy for low-emission mobility.
The fines were set on the basis of the Commissions 2006 Guidelines on fines (see press release and MEMO).
In setting the level of fines, the Commission took into account Scanias sales of heavy trucks in the EEA, as well as the serious nature of the infringement, the high combined market share of all participating companies, the geographic scope and the duration of the cartel.
Scania chose not to cooperate with the Commission during the investigation. Consequently Scania does not benefit from a fine reduction according to the Commissions 2006 Leniency Notice or according to the 2008 Settlement Notice.
The Commissions investigation started with an immunity application submitted by MAN. In January 2011 the Commission carried out unannounced inspections. In November 2014 the Commission sent a Statement of Objections to the trucks producers. The other addressees of the Statement of Objections were subject to a settlement decision adopted in July 2016. This decision did not cover Scania.
Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and Article 53 of the EEA Agreement prohibit cartels and other restrictive business practices.
More information will be available on the Commissions competition website, in the public case register under case number 39824, once confidentiality issues have been resolved.
More information on the Commissions action against cartels is available on its cartels website, including a list of the ten highest cartel fines per case. New decisions on competition policy are listed in the electronic newsletter Competition weekly e-News.
Action for damages
Any person or firm affected by anti-competitive behaviour as described in this case may bring the matter before the courts of the Member States and seek damages. The case law of the Court and Council Regulation 1/2003 both confirm that in cases before national courts, a Commission decision constitutes binding proof that the behaviour took place and was illegal. Even though the Commission has fined the companies concerned, damages may be awarded without being reduced on account of the Commission fine.
The Antitrust Damages Directive, which Member States had to implement in their legal systems by 27 December 2016, makes it easier for victims of anti-competitive practices to obtain damages. More information on antitrust damages actions, including a practical guide on how to quantify antitrust harm, is available here.
A tool to make it easier for individuals to alert the European Commission about anti-competitive behaviour while maintaining their anonymity has been set up by the Commission. The new tool protects whistleblowers anonymity through a specifically-designed encrypted messaging system that allows two way communications. The tool is accessible via this link.
Statement by Commissioner Vestager on fining Scania for participating in trucks cartel
Brussels, 27 September 2017
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The Commission has today decided to fine Scania more than €880 million for its participation in a trucks cartel.
Todays decision marks the end of our investigation into a cartel that had lasted 14 years. It involved six leading truck producers: besides Scania, also Daimler, DAF, Iveco, MAN and Volvo/Renault. Together, these companies produce more than 9 out of every 10 medium and heavy trucks sold in Europe. In other words, the large majority of trucks that European consumers and companies rely on for the transport of goods across the internal market.
One year ago, the other five companies (Daimler, DAF, Iveco, MAN and Volvo/Renault) involved in the trucks cartel acknowledged their liability for the cartel and reached a settlement with the Commission.
Scania, on the other hand, decided not to settle with the Commission. Since then our investigation regarding the company has continued under our standard cartel procedure.
So, with todays decision we have sanctioned all companies involved in this cartel. We have fined the 6 companies a total of €3.8 billion – a record fine for a cartel in the EUs 60 year history.
What happened in this cartel?
Our investigation found that the first meeting between senior managers of all six truck producers took place right here in Brussels, in January 1997. This was the beginning of a collusion that continued for 14 years.
The cartel dealt with the sales of medium and heavy trucks throughout the European Economic Area. These are large vehicles weighing more than 6 tonnes each. Scania specialises in producing heavy trucks over 16 tonnes.
The truck producers met regularly to manage the cartel. For the first few years of the cartel, this involved senior managers from the companies head offices meeting frequently. From 2004 onwards the cartel was organised at a lower level by the truck producers subsidiaries in Germany.
Scania was an active member of the cartel and was responsible for organising some of the meetings. For example, one of the invitations for a meeting sent by Scania openly stated their purpose. It read: "An exchange of information should always be the basis of our meeting and therefore I expect from every member of our group a proper preparation."
"Our group" here really means "our cartel". A properly organised one.
The discussions between the companies in the cartel focused on two main topics:
First, the truck producers discussed the "gross price list" increases they were planning for medium and heavy trucks and coordinated these with each other. These gross list prices are the basis for pricing in the trucks industry. The final price paid by buyers is then based on further adjustments, done at national and local level, to these gross list prices.
Second, the truck producers also discussed their response to increasingly strict European emissions standards. These have been progressively tightened over the years, reducing the acceptable limits for exhaust emissions from trucks.
The truck producers coordinated both on the pricing for the new technologies that were needed to meet the stricter standards and on when to actually introduce new technologies.
It is important that the truck producers compete on prices, but it is also very important that the truck producers compete on new environmentally friendly technologies and try to bring these to market as early as possible. This is not only necessary to give customers a choice to adopt these technologies but it is also of great value to our environment.
It was our leniency programme that helped us discover this cartel. This is our system for encouraging companies that participate in cartels to reveal their existence to the Commission, and to provide enough evidence for the Commission to investigate them. Companies receive immunity from fines in return for being the first to denounce other cartel members and reduced fines for cooperating with the Commission by providing important evidence.
In the case of the trucks cartel you may recall that MAN was the first to reveal the cartel, and so received immunity from fines. Volvo/Renault, Daimler and Iveco also cooperated by providing evidence and so had their fines reduced.
These five trucks producers who settled in July last year also had their fines further reduced by 10% under our settlement procedure. These five companies admitted that they were involved in the cartel, helping us take a decision quicker and free our resources for other investigations.
Scania chose not to cooperate with the Commission during the investigation and therefore does not benefit from any fine reduction.
Transport of goods is essential for our Single Market and plays a major role in the proper functioning of the European economy. Over the past 10 years, the Commission has remained committed to protecting competition in this crucial sector – we have uncovered 9 cartels in the automotive sector and fined companies a total of more than €6 billion for their illegal behaviour. And we still have a number of ongoing investigations into alleged cartels in the automotive sector, which we are pursuing as a matter of priority.
Our objective is to ensure fair competition and todays decision against the last member of the cartel is important for safeguarding effective competition in the trucks sector in Europe, as well as ensuring that customers will be offered new environmentally friendly technologies as soon as the technology is available.