1. Conservatory measures imposed on firms by the Commission in relation to a competition case, in which a final decision on the substance has not been reached yet, in order to avoid anti-competi- tive behaviour leading to irreversible damage before being sanc- tioned. Interim measures may be taken on the Commission’s own initiative, but are often requested together with a formal complaint. They can only be granted if the two following conditions are both met:

— a firm’s behaviour prima facie constitutes an infringement of competition rules, and

— there is urgency, that is, a risk of serious and irreparable harm to the applicant.

For instance, a company whose existence is threatened by a potentially anti-competitive conduct of another company may request that the Commission investigate the matter under competition law, and in addition ask that the Commission prohibit the conduct in question until the investigation is terminated by a formal decision.

(See: Order of the European Court of Justice in Case 792/97 R Camera Care v Commission [1980] ECR, p. 119, at paragraph 12–21).

The Commission can also take interim measures in merger cases in order to prevent the implementation of concentrations before the Commission has cleared them. The merger regulation prohibits the implementation prior to the Commission’s authorisation, to avoid irreversible changes to the market structure before it is certain that the conditions for clearing a concentration are actually assembled.

(See: Articles 7 and 8(4) of the merger regulation.)

2. Interim measures can also be granted by the president of the Court of First Instance, to prevent a company from suffering serious and irreparable harm through the enforcement of a Commission decision, the legality of which is challenged by that same company in a main action.

(See: Articles 104–110 of the rules of procedure of the Court of First Instance.)

Source: Glossary of terms used in EU competition policy, Antitrust and control of concentrations, European Commission, 2002