Mutual trust as a backbone of EU Antitrust Law

Main Article Content

Małgorzata Kozak


The article is an attempt to analyse to what extent a close cooperation between competition authorities belonging to the European Competition Network is based on the mutual trust principle. The fundamental importance of the principle of mutual trust was underscored in Opinion 2/13 on the Accession of the EU to the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR), where the Court of Justice found that: “it should be noted that the principle of mutual trust between the Member States is of fundamental importance in EU law”. However, as it was emphasised by the CJEU. mutual trust does not amount to a blind trust, as it is illustrated in the case law of the CJEU in cases concerning the European Arrest Warrant. The CJEU imposes more and more obligations on executing Member States in verifying whether there are no irregularities issuing the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) in comparison to the early days of its functioning, leading towards a regulated or conditioned trust. This development mutatis mutandis is particularly interesting to analyse while referring to the functioning of cooperation of competition authorities within the EU. The research statement of this article is that based on the outcome of CJEU case law in cases concerning EAW such as e.g. Aranyosi and Căldăraru the trust in institutional cooperation such as provided by Regulation 1/2003 and Directive 2019/1 should not be blind so as not to allow the non-noticing of irregularities occurred in other Member States or before the European Commission. We will begin by framing what the concept of trust englobes and showing how it is normatively framed in EU law. Then, the analysis concentrates on where there are boundaries to mutual trust in the decentralised application of art. 101 and 102 TFEU. Subsequently, the questions of how this trust works in practice and what the boundaries are that limit its application are addressed. As the concept of mutual trust is complex itself, this article does not aim to propose detailed solutions de lege ferenda. Its ultimate objective is rather to provide a conceptual framework of de lege lata analysis of mutual trust in the application of EU competition law. 

Keywords: Mutual trust, ECN, Directive 2019/1, Regulation 1/2003, Cooperation within the ECN


Download data is not yet available.


Brokelmann, Helmut. “Enforcement of Articles 81 and 82 EC under Regulation 1/2003: The case of Spain and Portugal”. World Competition 29, no. 4 (2006).

Cengiz, Firat. “Multi-level governance in competition policy: the European competition network”. European Law Review 35, no. 5 (2010): 661.

Cseres, Katie, and Annalies Outhuijse. “Parallel enforcement and accountability: The case of EU competition law”. University of Groningen Faculty of Law Research Paper, no. 11, (2017). or

Czajkowska, Monika. “Trust in organization – The philosophical outline of fundamentals of the problem”. Acta Universitatis Lodziensis, Folia Oeconomica 234 (2010).

Esteva Mosso, Carles. “Regulation 1/2003 – Five years on”. In 16th St Gallen International Competition Law Forum 2009, edited by Carl Baudenbacher. Germany: Helbing Lichtenhahn, 2010.

Fillafer, Franz Leander. “Mutual trust in the history of ideas”. In Mapping Mutual Trust: Understanding and Framing the Role of Mutual Trust in Eu Law (Max Weber Programme 2016/13). Edited by Evelien Brouwer and Damien Gerard. Florence: Cadmus, 2016.

Gac, Maciej. ”Europejska Przestrzeń Administracyjna jako mechanizm zwiększający efektywność stosowania prawa europejskiego – analiza na przykładzie Europejskiej Sieci Konkurencji”. Rocznik Administracji Publicznej 1 (2015).

Groussot, Xavier, Gunnar Thor Petursson, and Henrik Wenander. “Regulatory trust in EU Free Movement Law: Adopting the level of protection of the other?”. European Papers 1, no. 3 (2016).

Herwig C., H. Hofmann. “General principles of EU law and EU administrative law”. In European Union Law, edited by Catherine Barnard, and Steve Peers. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017.

Jóźwiak, Sonia. Europejska Sieć Konkurencji — model: struktura i współpraca oraz kompetencje decyzyjne członków, Warszawa 2011,

Klamert, Marcus. The Principles of Loyalty in EU Law. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.

Kozak, Małgorzata. “ECN+ Directive –A missed opportunity for strengthening the rights of parties?”. In New Directions in Competition Law Enforcement, edited by Catalin S. Rusu, Anne Looijestijn-Clearie, Marc Veenbrink, and Simon Tans, 49-65. Nijmengen: Wolf Legal Publishers, 2020.

Kozak, Małgorzata. “One, three and two, and independent will be you... On the necessity of the wider analysis of independence of Polish National Competition Authority in the light of ECN+ directive”. iKAR, no. 8 (2019): 23.

Lemaire, Christophe. “Premier bilan de l’application du reglement no 1/2003”. Petites affiches, no. 251 (2009): 38.

Lenaerts, Koen. “La vie apres l’avis: Exploring the principle of mutual (yet not blind) trust”. Common Market Law Review 54 (2017): 805-840.

Maher, Imelda. “Competition law networks and the challenge of transparency”. UCD Working Papers in Law, Criminology & Socio-Legal Studies Research Paper, no. 1 (2019). or

Marguery, Tony, and Ton Van den Brink, “Mutual recognition and mutual trust: Reinforcing EU Integration”. European Papers 1, no. 3 (2016).

Massa, Claudia. “Sincere cooperation and antitrust enforcement: Insights from the Damages and ECN+ Directives”. European Competition Journal (2019).

Monti, Giorgio. “Independence, interdependence and legitimacy: The EU Commission, National Competition Authorities, and the European Competition Network”. EUI Working Paper LAW, no. 1 (2014).

Moraru, Madalina. “Mutual trust from the perspective of national courts. A test in creative legal thinking”. In Mapping Mutual Trust: Understanding and Framing the Role of Mutual Trust in Eu Law (Max Weber Programme 2016/13), edited by Evelien Brouwer and Damien Gerard. Florence: Cadmus, 2016.

Prechal, Sacha. “Mutual trust before the Court of Justice of the European Union”. European Papers , 2, no. 1 (2017).

Reichelt, Daniel. “To what extent does the co-operation within the European Competition Network protect the rights of undertakings?”. Common Market Law Review 42 (2005): 747.

Snell, Jukka. “The single market: Does mutual trust suffice?” in Mapping Mutual Trust: Understanding and Framing the Role of Mutual Trust in Eu Law (Max Weber Programme 2016/13), edited by Evelien Brouwer Damien Gerard, 11-15. Florence: Cadmus, 2016.

Storskrubb, Eva. “Mutual trust and the limits of abolishing exequatur in civil justice”. In Mapping Mutual Trust: Understanding and Framing the Role of Mutual Trust in Eu Law (Max Weber Programme 2016/13), edited by Evelien Brouwer and Damien

Gerard, 15-23. Florence: Cadmus, 2016. Townley Christopher. A Framework for European Competition Law, Co-Ordinated Diversity. Oxford: Hart, 2019.