Cartel is an anticompetitive agreement between undertakings, who are direct competitors. Cartels are among the most serious infringements of competition rules, as they bring benefit only to their participants.
Mutual rivals´ agreement eliminates competitive pressure on undertakings, which results into a significant price increase, the smaller choice of products and services and depressed innovations. Thus, consumers pay more for a worse quality. This negative impact on consumer ultimately affects the economy as a whole. Therefore, cartels are always and under any circumstances prohibited and it is necessary to sanction them very strictly.
Detecting such cartels is extremely difficult. The Office is therefore empowered to acquire information and documentation and to conduct dawn raids at undertakings´ premises.
The most frequent subject of cartels is mainly direct and indirect price fixing. This causes that prices for customers are higher than they would be in an independent conduct.
Also market allocation agreements are dangerous, since the undertakings do not compete in a specified territory.
Agreements comprising discrimination, namely different conditions for individual undertakings or tying contracts to the adoption of commitments, which do not relate to the subject of given contract, have also the anticompetitive effect.
Agreements between undertakings in public procurement process, which may cause higher prices of contracts paid from public funds contain a negative effect as well.
Further information on cartels can be found at Slovak version of the Office´s website.