Over at the highly recommended ECHR Blog, there's an excellent post on EU antitrust fines and ECHR fair trial rights.
The author of the post, Felix Ronkes Agerbeek, is an eminent lawyer, who works in the Commission's presitigious legal service, and who marshals his arguments very carefully.
He makes a telling point: The case law of the European Court of Human Rights on Article 6 of the ECHR is unclear and imprecise when it comes to transposing it to the Commission's antitrust procedure. He draws the following general conclusion:
"One thing is clear, though. The simple fact that Article 6[ECHR] applies does not prevent the adoption of sanctions by an administrative body. On the contrary, according to the case-law it is perfectly acceptable that certain sanctions are imposed by way of an administrative decision."
There's no doubt that he's right about that. But the procedure used by the Commission's DG Competition may need a few modifications all the same. For example, the European Court of Human Right's judgment in Dubus SA v. France may require a reorganization of that department in order to separate the investigative and adjudicative roles currently exercised by the same people. We'll see what the General Court makes of that judgment in the case pending before it in Case T-56/09 Saint Gobain Glass France and Others v. Commission.
We don't "do" opinion and politics on this blog. At least, we endeavor to keep away from them. It is not that we don't have opinions or that we're not interested in politics. Our opinions are quite simply not interesting to others and any political analysis we could try would be banal beyond belief.