The Competition Authority has imposed a fine of EUR 1,971,397.17 (one million, nine hundred and seventy-one thousand, three hundred and ninety-seven euros and seventeen cents) on ANEPE – Associação Nacional de Empresas de Parques de Estacionamento (ANEPE) for anti-competitive practices in the market for the management and operation of parking lots.
The case was brought on the Competition Authority’s own initiative in the wake of public declarations, by representatives of sector undertakings, that indicated anti-competitive practices following the coming into force of Decree-Law No. 81/2006 of 20 April. The latter established the regulations governing the conditions for the use of parking lots and areas.
In the investigation carried out by the Competition Authority, it was ascertained that ANEPE informed its associates that the breaking-down of parking tariffs into periods of fifteen minutes, as defined by the said Decree-Law, would lead to a loss of receipts by the undertakings. It therefore recommended that that they start to charge an “entry fee” (i.e. a fixed amount to be paid by the user for entry to the parking lot), to be added to the first 15-minute parking period, in combination with a 2.5% price rise or, alternatively, a 15% price rise.
With this position, ANEPE sought to guarantee that, in altering the respective tariff tables (unilaterally or by agreement with the concessors), its associates applied identical criteria and assumptions, which would lead to the setting of “entry fees” in parking lots or an increase in the prices to be charged.
The Competition Authority ascertained that various undertakings belonging to ANEPE took its recommendations into account and actually altered the table of tariffs for public parking lots that they managed or operated.
The Competition Authority thus ruled that Article 4 of the Competition Law had been breached, on the grounds that ANEPE, as an association of undertakings, had adopted a decision whose object and effect was to prevent, distort or restrict competition to an appreciable degree.
In calculating the fine imposed on ANEPE, the Competition Authority considered, in accordance with Article 43 (2) of the Competition Law, the “aggregated annual turnover of the undertakings that took part” in the Association’s decision: EMPARQUE – Empreendimentos e Exploração de Parqueamentos SA; SPEL – Sociedade de Parques de Estacionamento SA; SIENT – Sistemas de Engenharia de Trânsito SA; CPE – Companhia de Parques de Estacionamento SA; and EMEL – Empresa Pública Municipal de Estacionamento de Lisboa EM.
Any appeal against the Competition Authority’s decision will be heard in Lisbon Commercial Court.
Lisbon, 19 January 2011