1 Protecting competition on the market as a means to enhance consumer welfare in the EU Undistorted competition on the market enhances consumer welfare by driving both static efficiency, including productive and allocative efficiency, and dynamic efficiency, in particular in the form of innovation. A series of decisions were adopted in 2011 which result in considerable benefits for consumers. Firstly, in the area of cartels ± which harm final consumers both directly and indirectly by increasing the prices of intermediary products- seven decisions were adopted7, imposing fines totalling ¼3,06 billion on 69 undertakings, which is close to the record level of fines of ¼3.3 billion imposed in 20078. Secondly, other antitrust activities also brought about clear benefits, for example in the area of financial services, as illustrated by the decision adopted by the Commission in December 2010 which made binding the commitments offered by Visa to cut interbank fees for debit cards9. These fees are ultimately paid by the consumers, and the commitments offered cover several hundred million transactions every year worth between ¼10 and 20 billion. The Commission was also active in the pharmaceuticals sector to make sure that consumers' access to lower priced generic medicines is not prevented or harmed by unlawful practices, engaging in detailed monitoring of patent settlements in the EU10 and initiating proceedings as regards a number of potentially anti-competitive practices11. In the health services sector, the Commission adopted the decision in the ONP case on 8 December 2010 concerning the French pharmacists' association fixing minimum prices and hindering the development of integrated groups of laboratories12. This activity is also important in view of Member States' current and future budgetary situation. In terms of quantitative indicators, in 2010 DG Competition developed and implemented a new methodology allowing for a more robust13 benchmark for assessing the impact of its antitrust and merger policy, which shows that the estimated (observable) customer benefits from its cartel decisions was in the range of ¼7.2 billion to ¼10.8 billion, and the estimated (observable) benefits derived from horizontal merger decisions were in the range of ¼4.2 to ¼6.3 billion. It is important to stress that the above estimates cover only a part of the Commission's activities in the field of competition policy, including its enforcement activities.14. Also, they do not take account of the important deterrent effect of all these activities.

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