The concept of trust is key to effectively enforcing the EU antitrust prohibitions in the ECN multi-level administration context. The manifestation of this concept is identified at different stages of the public enforcement system, where the Commission and the NCAs share the enforcement workload and assist each other’s actions. Various EU legislative, soft-law and case-law landmarks have progressively contributed to developing this idea of trust, culminating with the adoption of Directive 2019/1, which aims to render NCAs as more effective enforcers of Articles 101 and 102 TFEU. In this paper, we intend to determine whether the Directive furthers the trust already established in the last fifteen years of enforcement experience. We first track the development of the trust in the NCAs’ EU antitrust enforcement work and assesses the building-blocks on which trust is shaped. Next, we evaluate the Directive’s core elements (dealing with institutional design, enforcement and sanctioning powers, leniency, mutual assistance, etc.), in order to gauge their trust-enhancing potential, and to test whether the Directive correctly follows through the EU hard-, soft-, and case-law. We also look into any remaining enforcement gaps, which may undermine the trust between the European antitrust enforcers, and consequently the Directive’s core objectives.
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