OECD/ICN Report on International Co-operation in Competition Enforcement 2021


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21 January 2021 - The globalised and digitalised economy has created a highly interconnected world that has increased cross-border competition issues. The significant growth in the number of competition authorities and the increasing willingness of competition authorities, both young and mature, to engage in cross border cases has also driven this increase. For effective and efficient enforcement of competition law in a globalised economy, national competition authorities must have the ability to co-operate with each other on these cross-border matters, in order to realise the economic and welfare goals of a sound competition policy.

The OECD and the International Competition Network (ICN) share a mission to promote international co-operation between competition authorities. Both have worked for many years to improve the resources, frameworks and opportunities required for effective collaboration. 

This joint OECD/ICN Report outlines key aspects of the current state of international enforcement co-operation between competition authorities. It builds on a 2012 survey by the two organisations that resulted in two separate reports, one from the OECD and one from the ICN. The report contains:

  • a description of the drivers of international enforcement co-operation

  • a high-level review of main OECD and ICN initiatives to support international enforcement co-operation

  • the results and analysis of the survey conducted of OECD and ICN members in 2019

  • comparisons with the 2012 survey results



VIDEO: Summary of the OECD/ICN Report on Internationa Co-operation 2021 


Key findings from the survey

   The key findings regarding the past and current status of international enforcement co-operation are:
  • there has been an overall increase in international enforcement co operation across all enforcement areas.

  • authorities use various legal bases for enforcement co-operation, although there are some long-standing legal barriers to effective international enforcement co-operation.

  • authorities derive significant benefits from international enforcement co-operation, regardless of their respective size and level of maturity.

  • enforcement co-operation within regions (including through specific regional arrangements) is one of the most significant and successful types of co-operation for authorities, including for those outside highly developed and mature regional enforcement co-operation arrangements.

  • key challenges and limitations to effective enforcement co-operation remain. While some are an inherent and ongoing part of engaging in international enforcement co-operation (such as managing limited resources), others could potentially be resolved.

Key challenges for enforcement co-operation

The five key categories of challenges that limit international enforcement co-operation identified in the Report are:

  • legal limitations, especially relating to confidential information sharing, investigative assistance and enhanced co-operation
  • resourcing
  • co-ordination/timing
  • trust and reciprocity
  • practical issues (e.g language, time, difference etc.)

Proposed future areas of focus

The Report proposes future areas of focus and development for consideration by competition authorities, the OECD, the ICN and other interested parties to address the challenges identified. These include:

  • developing further enforcement co-operation work-products and networks

  • improving transparency and trust

  • providing policy and practical support for further developing effective regional enforcement co-operation

  • removing substantive and legal barriers to co-operation




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If you have questions, comments or would like further information regarding the OECD's work on international co-operation and competition, please contact: [email protected].

See also

International Co-operation on Competition Investigations and Proceedings: Progress in implementing the 2014 OECD Recommendation

2021 Workshop on Legal Models for International Enforcement Co-operation

2014 Council Recommendation on International Co-operation in Competition Investigations and Proceedings

OECD report on the OECD/ICN Survey on International Competition Enforcement Co-operation, 2013

International Co-operation and Competition main page

Recommendations and Best Practices on Competition Law and Policy

OECD Competition main page

Full list of Best Practice Roundtables on Competition Policy 


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