RCC continues scrutiny of the automotive market in Romania


The Romanian Competition Council (RCC) imposed a hefty fine of EUR 2.65 million on the Romanian subsidiary of an international automotive company for anti-competitive agreements in the market for the distribution of new, medium and heavy trucks of a particular brand.

Following the RCC’s investigation, the competition authority concluded that the company and its distributors in its selective distribution network had agreed on the territory in which they could resell new, medium and heavy trucks. In so doing, the companies involved are alleged to have agreed not to sell these trucks outside Romania. The market-sharing arrangements were provided and implemented through contractual provisions, negotiated and signed by the infringing company with the dealers. Through these agreements, the companies no longer competed with one another, leaving customers with no real choice on the market, thus affecting competition at national level as well as trade between Member States.

The infringing company admitted its conduct and as a result received a reduction of the fine. The company, which is a member of an international automotive group, is the sole importer of new, medium and heavy trucks of a particular brand on the Romanian market. The investigation was triggered by a leniency application filed by a distributor, which received immunity from fines for cooperating with the competition authority under the leniency programme.

The decision marks the ongoing concern of the RCC for anti-competitive provisions in commercial agreements, irrespective whether these are vertical (supplier to dealer) or horizontal (competitors’) arrangements. Considering that 2022 marked the entry into force of new rules applicable to vertical agreements (Commission Regulation (EU) 2022/720 of 10 May 2022 on the application of Article 101(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union to categories of vertical agreements and concerted practices and related EC Guidelines), companies should revisit their agreements with both dealers and clients to ensure that there are no prohibited restrictions of competition.  

For further information please contact Cristina Popescu, Partner and Laura Capata, Senior Associate.