Not so long ago, industrial sectors were the supposititious child of the Dutch economy. This has changed with the success of Dutch high-tech companies, including those at Brainport in South-East Netherlands, and the revaluation of the traditional manufacturing industry. Industry is a diverse part of the Dutch economy, from high-tech to commodity. Research by the Authority for Consumers & Markets (ACM) shows that a large number of industries have an increased risk of classic cartel activity. This plays a particular role in concentrated markets with relatively little dynamics and no or barely any growth. It is precisely in these types of markets that ACM and the European Commission have established infringements of the cartel prohibition and imposed high fines in the past few years. In innovative and more dynamic markets, companies have to deal with other issues, for instance in case they wish to co-operate with other companies. Competition law includes specific rules for cooperative arrangements in the area of specialisation, R&D or marketing. A proper audit beforehand can prevent many problems.
Transportation hubs such as Schiphol Airport and the port of Rotterdam are very important to the Dutch economy. These transportation hubs are a significant driver of the transport and logistics sector. ACM is aware of this and is currently investigating the mainport and transport sector. The transportation hubs are dependent on good road, rail and water connections to the hinterland. Reliable and quick connections are crucial, especially for the transport of perishables. Competition law issues may emerge when there are few alternatives in terms of infrastructure, and discussions arise on the conditions under which infrastructure may be used. There are also traditional risks of competition law violations, such as capacity limitation agreements. Similar issues play a role in relation to publicpassenger transport. Contracting authorities are increasingly opting for multimodal concessions (e.g. bus and tram in one concession). As a result of this, transport providers must cooperate more frequently in order to make a competitive bid. This too can fall under the scope of competition rules.
The economic crisis leaves its marks on the automotive sector. Many automotive companies, from petrol station operators to major car manufacturers, are forced to revisit their strategies. This leads to various strategic partnerships and takeovers. Even when the economy is strengthening, business operations are still under pressure, and new developments such as electric driving offer both opportunities and threats which may lead to conflicts. Competition law often plays a crucial role in this regard, for example in case of long-term purchasing contracts or obtaining access to E-charging points. Specific European regulations regarding the automotive sector have been amended and as a result of this the protection of car dealers has largely disappeared. Many manufacturers and importers have reviewed their contracts and dealer network. Disputes over multibranding, vehicle imports or exports or admission to the dealer network are common.