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The enforcement of EU competition law relies to a great extent on national courts and tribunals. They are faced with a challenging responsibility given the dynamic nature of this area of law. Also, the interplay of EU competition law and national law, especially national procedural law, poses them with various challenges. The decentralised enforcement of EU competition law is a relatively new field of law for the recently joined Member States and prospective Member States. Although courses on competition law may remedy a possible gap in academic knowledge, it is felt that what is (also) needed is an exchange of practical expertise: how to deal with the fast-paced developments in European competition law in practice. The exchange of solutions to competition law problems for the judiciary, set in an overarching structure of sound scholarly knowledge, is a good way to provide the judiciary of the new and prospective Member States with this practical knowledge.
It is in this light that the European Commission has financed a project to set up a training program for national judges in EU competition law and to stimulate judicial co-operation between national judges. The main goal is to improve the national enforcement of EC competition law by:
a. identifying problems and other issues related to the enforcement of EU competition law in the Member States.
b. identifying, sharing and evaluating national good practices related thereto.
c. stimulating processes of mutual learning among competition law judges, both transnational and national.
d. dissemination of knowledge through publication of the conference proceedings and conclusions.
e. strengthening transnational and national co-operation between judges.
To reach this goal, a two day conference entitled ‘Removing Obstacles: a mutual learning experience towards good practices in competition law enforcement’ was held at the Europa Institute of Utrecht University on 21 and 22 October 2011. To ensure further dissemination of knowledge obtained at the conference, the background papers and country papers of the conference are compiled in this publication in order to ensure the project results in a long-lasting and influential product.