Abuse by non-dominant companies? Belgian rules to prohibit "abuses of economic dependence"

A new form of competition law infringement will be enforceable in Belgium (in addition to the prohibitions on anti-competitive agreements and abuses of a dominant position). The new Article IV.2/1 of the Belgian Competition Act (CA) will prohibit companies from abusing a non-dominant position vis-à-vis companies that are "economically dependent" on them.

While this kind of competition law infringement does not exist at EU level, similar provisions can be found in other EU member states and have been increasingly enforced (e.g., recently in France resulting in fines of over €1 billion). The Belgian legislator had initially aimed for the new prohibition to enter into force on 1 June 2020. However, on 5 June, it was announced by the BCA that legislation was enacted delaying the entry into force to not later than 1 December 2020.

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