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The Legal Effects of EU Competition Soft Law in the Decisions of National Competition Authorities:

The Case of the Bundeskartellamt

Leander Stähler, Mariolina Eliantonio


Keywords: EU soft law, enforcement, Bundeskartellamt, NCAs, EU Commission

Soft law issued by the European Commission plays an important role in the area of EU competition law. Focusing on the legal effect of competition soft law as applied by Germany’s national competition authority, the Bundeskartellamt, this contribution analyses how the authority pursues interpretational and decisional objectives through references to competition soft law. This contribution quantifies the references made to soft law and categorises these references on the basis of the involvement of other sources of law in an individual reference. It is shown that the Bundeskartellamt is comfortable making reference to competition soft law as the sole legal basis for certain parts of many decisions, ascribing to competition soft law a strong legal effect in several instances.
Keywords: EU soft law; enforcement; Bundeskartellamt; NCAs; EU Commission

Leander Stähler, LLM, Research Assistant, Utrecht University School of Law. For correspondence: <>. Professor Mariolina Eliantonio, Professor of European and Comparative Administrative Law and Procedure, Maastricht University Faculty of Law. For correspondence: <>.


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