Consumer Group Attacks Reding's Retreat on Pushing EU Civil Cartel Suits

Consumers may suffer if Viviane Reding, the European Union’s justice chief, drops a bid to spur civil lawsuits against price-fixers, a customer-rights group said.

The European Consumers’ Organization, BEUC, said it’s disappointed by comments Reding made in an interview published in Financial Times Deutschland, in which she said efforts to encourage more cartel-damages claims were “no longer on the agenda.”

“Illegal profit should not stay in the wrong pockets,” BEUC said in a letter to Reding, obtained by Bloomberg News. “Consumers see their rights being violated by traders and they are paying the price of competition infringements whilst their right to compensation remains non-existent.”

Neelie Kroes, the former competition commissioner, championed lawsuits as a way to compensate victims of unlawful monopolies and cartels. Such lawsuits, in addition to fines that can reach millions of euros, could help victims recover losses and deter antitrust violations, she argued.

Reding’s spokesman Matthew Newman said the commission “is continuing to look” at what forms of collective redress could fit into the EU legal system.

The regulator imposed 1.6 billion euros ($2.14 billion) in cartel fines last year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Aoife White in Brussels at awhite62@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net.

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