On 15 March 2022 the European Commission (EC) and the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched parallel investigations into the automotive sector, with dawn raids at premises of companies across numerous EU Member States and the UK. Requests for further information were also sent to a number of entities operating in the automotive sector.
The EC and CMA probes relate to arrangements for recycling old vehicles, particularly cars and vans, known in the industry as 'end-of-life vehicles' (ELV). ELVs are required to be disposed of in a sustainable way and customers must be offered a free service for recycling ELVs, as service manufacturers often outsource to third parties. The inspections and requests for information concerning possible collusion in relation to the collection, treatment and recovery of end-of-life cars and vans which are considered waste.
Therefore, there are concerns (potentially raised by an immunity applicant or third party) that companies and associations may have breached EU and UK competition rules, respectively, that prohibit cartels and restrictive practices.
Both investigations reflect the EC's and CMA’s commitment to prioritise promoting environmental sustainability through effective competitive markets.
This is one of the first examples in the post-Brexit era of a coordinated dawn raid between the EC and CMA taking place. The CMA stated it was working closely along with the European Commission on this matter, indicating close cooperation between the regulators going forward.
The launch of these parallel investigations does not assume or confirm that competition law was breached at this stage. Both the EC and CMA did not name any of the companies involved.
For further reading please refer to:
- GOV.UK: Press release - CMA launches investigation into recycling of cars and vans
- European Commission: Antitrust: Commission carries out unannounced inspections in the automotive sector