The EU's rules on competition are designed to ensure fair and equal conditions for businesses, while leaving space for innovation, unified standards, and the development of small businesses.
The European Commission monitors and investigates anti-competition practices, mergers and state aid to ensure a level playing field for EU businesses, while guaranteeing choice and fair pricing for consumers.
Large firms are barred from using their bargaining power to impose conditions that would make it difficult for their suppliers or customers to do business with their competitors. The Commission can fine companies for this practice, because it leads to higher prices and/or less choice for consumers.
The Commission's powers to investigate and halt violations of EU competition rules are subject to a number of internal checks and balances, as well as full judicial review by the European Courts.
The EU is also at the forefront of international cooperation in the competition field to promote and propose best practice. It was a founding member of the International competition network (ICN), and partners with global and national bodies to assess possible competition breaches.