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Unlocking the Power of the European Commission to Order Interim Measures Under Regulation 1/2003 : An Inquiry into the Nature of the Tool

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Is the long-forgotten power of the Commission to order interim measures a satisfactory tool to safeguard the effective enforcement of EU competition law? It is not possible seriously to consider the claim without exploring the essential properties that characterize the power and that must inform its exercise. The decisional practice is scarce, and the related case law consists of a handful of judicial decisions, the latest of which is over 20 years old. What precisely is the role of the Commission’s interim powers within the EU system of competition law enforcement currently in force? The present article attempts to reveal the nature of the tool in the light of multiple elements found relevant for the interpretation and application of Article 8 of Regulation 1/2003. Along the way, misapprehensions with the potential to undermine interim action by the Commission are identified.