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Mobility and Transport

Filing complaints under Regulation (EU) 2019/712

Can I file a complaint against a third country or third-country entity?

If you officially represent a Member State of the EU, one or more Union air carriers or an association of Union air carriers, then the answer is yes. These are the interested parties which can be directly affected by the alleged practice distorting competition.

How can I send my complaint?

The standard complaint form should be filled in and sent electronically to the following functional mailbox:

EU-SAFEGUARDING-COMPETITION-AIR-TRANSPORT@ec.europa.eu

How can I determine whether a practice adopted by a third county or third-country entity falls under the scope of Regulation (EU) 2019/712?

There are three conditions for a practice adopted by a third county or third-country entity to fall under the scope of Regulation (EU) 2019/712:

  1. It must distort competition, by giving an unfair or unwarranted competitive advantage to one or more third-country air carriers over one or more Union carriers;
  2. It must cause injury or at least threaten to cause injury to one or more Union carriers. The competitive advantage given to the third-country carrier(s) must be such as to affect one or more markets or routes where both the Union carrier(s) and the third-country carrier(s) are active;
  3. The practice must be linked to the injury or threat of injury. In other words, the practice by the third country or third-country entity must be such as to trigger an anti-competitive behaviour by the third-country carrier(s) causing injury or threat of injury to the Union carrier(s).

How detailed must my complaint be?

Decisions taken by the Commission under Regulation (EU) 2019/712 are subject to appeal procedures by the affected parties before the European Court of Justice. Any such decisions must therefore be based on a precise description of the anti-competitive practice and, above all, on factual, verifiable and thorough evidence, quantifying the injury or threat of injury to Union carriers and proving that the distortive practice has a causal link with this injury or threat of injury.

Allegations based on unverifiable or unquantified evidence cannot withstand legal scrutiny by the European Court of Justice and therefore cannot provide a sound legal basis for a Commission decision establishing a practice contrary to Regulation (EU) 2019/712.

My complaint contains confidential information. Will this information be shared outside the Commission?

Provided that you submit legitimate grounds for treating certain elements of the complaint as confidential, the Commission services will act accordingly and will not make those elements known to third parties involved in the investigation.

This could concern, for example, information the disclosure of which would be of significant competitive advantage to a competitor of yours or would have a significantly adverse effect upon you or the organisation that you represent or upon a person from whom you have acquired the information.

In case your complaint contains confidential information, you are invited to clearly identify the confidential elements, explain the reasons for the confidential treatment and provide a non-confidential version thereof.

The Commission will ensure the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data in full compliance with Regulation (EU) 2016/679 (General Data Protection Regulation).

What happens after the complaint is submitted?

Within 10 working days, you will receive an acknowledgment of receipt of your complaint, containing the registration number of the case to be mentioned in all further communications.

The non-confidential version of your complaint will be submitted to all EU Member States for information.

The Commission services will examine the information provided and inform you of the outcome as soon as possible. Depending on the accuracy, adequacy and relevance of the information provided, the following next steps are possible:

  1. Your complaint is not admissible. This would be the case if you are not an official representative of a Member State of the EU, one or more Union air carriers or an association of Union air carriers;
  2. The evidence that you submitted is insufficient for the Commission to initiate an investigation. In this case, you will be informed within 60 days of the date on which the complaint was lodged. You will then have 45 days to provide the additional evidence requested by the Commission services;
  3. At the end of the preliminary assessment:
    • There is no prima facie evidence of:
      1. the existence of a practice distorting competition adopted by a third country or a third-country entity; and/or
      2. an injury or threat to injury to one or more Union carriers; and/or
      3. a causal link between the practice and the injury or threat of injury. If the information that you provided in your complaint and any further information provided following a request from the Commission services is not sufficient to trigger an investigation, the Commission will adopt a decision not to initiate an investigation within 5 months of the lodging of the complaint;
    • There is prima facie evidence of:
      1. the existence of a practice distorting competition adopted by a third country or a third-country entity; and
      2. an injury or threat to injury to one or more Union carriers; and
      3. a causal link between the practice and the injury or threat of injury. If the information that you provided in your complaint and any further information provided following a request from the Commission services is sufficient to trigger an investigation, the Commission will adopt a decision to initiate an investigation within 5 months of the lodging of the complaint.