Key facts of the case:
Appeal — Competition — Cartels — European market for submarine and underground power cables — Market allocation in connection with projects — Regulation (EC) No 1/2003 — Article 20 — European Commission’s powers of inspection in cartel proceedings — Power to copy data without a prior examination and to examine the data subsequently at the Commission’s premises — Fines — Unlimited jurisdiction.
Outcome of the case:
On those grounds, the Court (Second Chamber) hereby:
31) In support of their claim for annulment of the decision at issue, the appellants raised two pleas in law before the General Court, claiming, first, infringement of (i) Article 20(2) to (4) of Regulation No 1/2003, (ii) the inspection decision, (iii) the rights of the defence and (iv) Article 7 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and, second, an error of assessment concerning the determination of the date on which Nexans France’s participation in the cartel began. In support of their claim for a reduction of the amount of the fines which had been imposed on them, in addition to relying on the Commission’s error regarding the duration of the infringement in question, which was contested in the second plea of the action, the appellants relied on a specific plea, alleging a manifest error of assessment and infringement of the obligation to state reasons and the principle of equal treatment in setting the gravity factor for the calculation of the fines.
37) Third, the General Court held that the Commission had not infringed the appellants’ rights of defence, Article 20(3) and (4) of Regulation No 1/2003 or Article 7 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights.