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Prevent cartel formation as a self-employed professional

This information is provided by

Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, EZK

If you work with other entrepreneurs, you are not allowed to make price agreements or divide customers. That would be cartel formation. This is prohibited under the Dutch Competition Act (Mededingingswet) because it hinders fair competition between companies. There are exceptions.

Competition act and cooperation

Collaborating with other companies can have benefits. For example, you can take on larger assignments and tenders together. You can also share operating costs, risks, and knowledge. Make sure that you comply with the Competition Act. The Competition Act prohibits cartels. You form a cartel if you consult or make agreements with another company about, for example, prices for products or services. Or about how you divide the market. Agreements within a company are allowed. Read more about the rules for competition and cartels.

Fine for cartel agreements

If you do make cartel agreements, you could be fined by the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM). The amount of this fine will be part of your turnover. ACM looks at the seriousness of the violation, the circumstances, and the duration. You could also be fined personally for participating in a cartel or for directing a violation.

Combination agreement for collaboration in tenders

With a large tender you can submit a quote together with other companies. If you win the tender, you will carry out the assignment together. This is called a combination agreement. Combination agreements also fall under the cartel ban. This means that you may only make agreements that offer benefits to the customer. And that are necessary for the collaboration.

Exceptions to the cartel ban

There are 4 exceptions to the cartel ban for self-employed professionals without personnel (zzp’er). In those cases, you are allowed to make agreements with other entrepreneurs about prices and other conditions. You are responsible for assessing or having assessed whether an exception applies to you.

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This information is provided by

Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, EZK
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