Enlightening public authorities and promoting prevention

Enforcement is not the only tool at the Autorité's disposal for improving the functioning of the economy; it plays a range of other roles than just policeman. Whether through its many opinions or its proactive approach to compliance, the Autorité is at the same time a think tank for devising reforms, a force for expertise alongside the public authorities and a guide to the competition rules for economic stakeholders. Such committed action aims at deepening and promoting the culture of competition.


In the face of major social, societal, environmental and economic challenges, the question of responsibility is a key challenge for companies. In this regard, compliance has become an essential tool for good corporate governance and for securing the future of companies. More and more of them are committing to this approach and seeking ethical and responsible consistency, with regard to both their employees and their customers. Compliance can even become an argument for competitiveness or differentiation. Conversely, not respecting the rules can have a significant reputational cost (a company that is fined may suffer the consequences of a tarnished image among its customers, employees or the general public). Business leaders are therefore required to position themselves either by meeting minimal expectations in this regard, or by making their commitment a key element.

Although, in certain areas (anti-corruption measures, anti-money laundering, etc.), implementing a compliance process is a legal obligation, this is not actually the case in the area of competition. Nevertheless, implementing actions to promote compliance with the competition rules is strongly advised in view of the significant risks in the event of breaches. This will allow companies to manage their activities more effectively, by avoiding, in particular, the constraints related to investigations, possible fines which can be substantial, as well as the risk of damage to their reputation.

In order to assist companies of whatever size, who are showing a growing interest in compliance programmes, the Autorité has decided to give a new impetus to its work in this area. In the first instance, in 2021, it made available a dedicated online space to companies that brings together all useful resources and information. Second, the Autorité decided to update its framework document, 10 years after the publication of its first document in 2012. In this document, the Autorité reiterated that compliance is everyone’s concern, and that it is the duty, and in the interest, of economic stakeholders to take all necessary measures to conduct their activities in compliance with competition rules. It also indicated that, while the development of compliance and competition culture in recent years has enabled a significant amount of economic stakeholders to develop competition compliance programmes, companies should still continue to be encouraged to develop such programmes, either on an autonomous basis or by integrating them into a general compliance policy (in the areas of anti-corruption and anti-money laundering, data protection, environmental policy, etc.) and to devote the resources necessary to ensure success.

The definitive framework document, which was published in May 2022, is a collection of “best practices” to help make these programmes effective. Having reiterated the benefits generated by these programmes, the document highlights the conditions and criteria that must be met for them to be effective and specifies the role that the various actors can play in this respect (Framework document of 24 May 2022 on compliance programmes in the area of competition law, available in the Compliance section).


The Autorité’s advisory role has grown steadily in recent years. While its expertise is often sought by the government and parliamentary committees, for example to analyse the functioning of a market, examine the regulation of a sector or profession, or study the competitive impact of draft laws or decrees, the Autorité also regularly launches sector-specific inquiries on its own initiative.

There may be various criteria for making these choices. The Autorité may choose to focus on a given sector owing to significant public interest issues (health, mobility, purchasing power, etc.) or because it has identified the existence of untapped sources of growth and/or Malthusian regulations. For examples, we can cite the sector-specific inquiries on visible car parts, long-distance coach transport and hearing aids, which have led to important reforms. The Autorité may also wish to explore the emerging and complex issues relating to the development of e-commerce, online advertising, FinTech (for more details, see p. 57) or the Cloud (for more details, see p. 62). From this perspective, conducting sector-specific inquiries of this type is a crucial and strategic investment that allows the Autorité to deepen its understanding of the phenomena at work and the technologies in place, and to anticipate new issues that may arise in the future in different markets. This approach allows the Autorité to anticipate the future and base its future decisions on in-depth and robust reflections.


The Autorité regularly implements communication
actions to make its action accessible to small businesses, the general public and students. For example, it creates infographics and videos to accompany its opinions and decisions, and publishes practical guides, such as the guide for SMEs or the guide dedicated to professional bodies. Some of its work is less conventional, including the creation of a “Don’t stop the competition” playlist which is available on online music platforms, as well as a series of educational cards entitled “Competition is in our nature”, which present the main concepts of competition. The Autorité’s educational productions are also used in the context of teaching in high schools given that, since 2020, competition law has been integrated into the curriculum of the economics and social sciences course.


From a procedural perspective, the Autorité generally issues its conclusions following a comprehensive investigation, which includes a broad consultation of all market players. Interviews, targeted questionnaires, online consultation and sessions of the college are organised in succession to understand the functioning of the sector in as much detail as possible. In its opinions, the Autorité describes the main outlines and operating mechanisms of the sectors studied. This meticulous work allows it, when it receives a referral or if it is informed of competitive issues in the sector, to have a highly precise analysis framework, whereby it can examine its cases more effectively. Moreover, it should be noted that for companies, sector-specific inquiries provide an analytical framework that can guide them in their compliance efforts.

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