The competition rules in the FTAs of Switzerland and the EFTA States are designed to ensure that trade liberalisation under the FTA is not hindered, restricted or distorted by anti-competitive business practices of companies. Accordingly, market foreclosure by means of agreements between companies (e.g. on prices, quantities brought onto the market or market areas) or by abusive behaviour by market dominating companies is not compatible with the FTAs. These rules also apply to public enterprises.
The national competition authorities are responsible for ensuring that these principles are upheld. Rules on cooperation and the exchange of information between the relevant competition authorities can also be agreed as part of an FTA. If anti-competitive behaviour impairs trade between the parties, either may request a consultation. If the situation persists, the party affected can take appropriate action, which must be proportionate and have as little negative impact as possible on the application of the FTA.
FAQs on competition
The rules on competition in Switzerland’s FTAs supplement those on market access. Companies are not allowed to close off the markets that the agreements have opened up to them through anti-competitive behaviour. There can sometimes be significant differences between the various countries in terms of how competition law is interpreted and enforced. For this reason, the rules on competition in FTAs are usually limited to general principles of international competition law and mechanisms for cooperating and exchanging information.
Yes, based on the Swiss Cartel Act, Switzerland can take measures if competition restrictions abroad affect competition in Switzerland. This can also be the case if circumstances are not sanctioned under foreign law. Most Swiss FTAs contain provisions that explicitly provide for such measures.
Last modification 09.09.2020