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EU launches new tool for whistleblowers to report antitrust violations and cartels

The European Commission (the executive arm of the EU) has launched a new initiative to encourage whistleblowers to step forward. A whistleblowing hotline including an email address, phone number, and encrypted web form will allow individuals to anonymously report price-fixing cartels and other anti-competitive practices.

In a press statement, Margrethe Vestager, head of competition policy, said: “If people are concerned by business practices that they think are wrong, they can help put things right. Inside knowledge can be a powerful tool to help the Commission uncover cartels and other anti-competitive practices. With our new tool it is possible to provide information, while maintaining anonymity.”

The Commission said it previously relied on its leniency program for such tips, which allows businesses to report cartels they were involved in for a reduced fine. So far in 2017, the Commission has already fined firms involved in two cartels more than €200 million for working together to raise prices on items including air conditioning systems for cars.

The new whistleblowing tools are also intended to attract information on anti-trust cases. The Commission is currently pursuing a number of these, including several targeting Google for its allegedly anti-competitive business practices involving Android, online shopping, and its lucrative ad business.

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