Laws and rules
The Swedish Competition Act and the EU’s competition rules contain two prohibitions: Prohibition against anticompetitive cooperation between undertakings and prohibition against the exploitation of market power by undertakings in a dominant position.
Two key prohibition provisions for undertakings
The Swedish Competition Act and the EU’s competition rules contain two key prohibition provisions - one prohibiting anticompetitive cooperation between undertakings and one prohibiting undertakings in a dominant position from abusing their market power.
The first prohibition applies when undertakings cooperate to prevent, restrict or distort competition. For example, cartels are a form of prohibited cooperation. In order for cooperation to be prohibited, competition law requires that competition be significantly restricted or distorted. For example, this means that cooperation between undertakings with very low market shares may be exempt from the prohibition against anticompetitive cooperation.
The second prohibition applies when undertakings abuse their dominant position in the market. Dominance itself is not forbidden. On the other hand, it is forbidden to abuse one’s market power.
The EU’s competition rules in Sweden
Undertakings in Sweden must comply with articles of the EU’s Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) prohibiting anticompetitive agreements and the abuse of a dominant position.
In the case of anticompetitive agreements and the abuse of a dominant position, a practice can be examined under both the EU’s competition rules and under the Swedish Competition Act. The EU’s competition rules apply as Swedish law, in parallel with Swedish competition legislation.
The Swedish Competition Authority applies the EU’s competition rules if trade between EU Member States is significantly affected. Agreements between undertakings that only concern the Swedish market may also be examined under the EU’s competition rules, for example if they impede imports.
Chapter 2, Section 1 of the Swedish Competition Act and Art. 101 of the TFEU prohibit anticompetitive cooperation between undertakings that significantly hinders or distorts competition. The rules prohibit various types of cooperation, including price agreements (price-fixing), information exchange or exclusivity agreements. The prohibition applies to both horizontal and vertical cooperation.
Chapter 2, Section 7 of the Swedish Competition Act and Art. 102 of the TFEU prohibit undertakings in a dominant position from abusing their market power. For example, an undertaking may be considered to have a dominant position if it has a large market share (above 40%), but numerous different circumstances are always assessed. An undertaking must not abuse its dominant position, for example by making it more difficult for new actors to enter the market or through predatory pricing.
Acquisition of undertakings
The Swedish Competition Act and the EU’s competition rules contain rules on the acquisition of undertakings. Some acquisitions are to be reported to the Swedish Competition Authority and some are to be examined by the European Commission. There are also cases when the acquisitions can be referred from Sweden to the Commission and vice versa.
In Sweden, acquisitions in which the annual turnover of the undertakings concerned exceeds certain thresholds must be reported to the Swedish Competition Authority.
A takeover that could result in a reduction in competition in the market may be prohibited. This very rarely happens. Instead of prohibiting a takeover altogether, we may decide that the undertaking must sell off parts of the business, provided that this action is sufficient to eliminate the harmful effects of the acquisition.
The European Commission examines takeovers that have a Union dimension, i.e., where the turnover of undertakings exceeds certain thresholds and the undertakings operate in several Member States. In exceptional cases, these acquisitions may be examined at the national level in Sweden. Learn more about the thresholds
Under certain conditions, the examination of a takeover may be referred from the national level to the European Commission or from the Commission to the national level in Sweden. The request for such a referral may be made by the acquiring undertaking or by the Member States concerned.
Anticompetitive public sales activities
The Swedish Competition Act contains rules that are intended to prevent unfair competition between public and private undertakings. This rule means that courts can prohibit the Swedish state, municipalities and regions from selling goods and services in a way that restricts competition.
The duty to supply information
Undertakings are obliged to provide us with the information necessary for our investigations. We may also demand information from municipalities and regions on the costs and revenues of their activities.