The European Commission has issued a Statement of Objections against Honeywell International Inc. (Honeywell) and E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company (DuPont). The Commission’s allegations centre on certain agreements the parties entered into in 2010 over the production of a new refrigerant for use in car air-conditioning systems (R-1234yf). The Commission believes that the agreements may have limited the product’s availability and technical development cooperation in breach of Article 101(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (‘TFEU‘);. The Statement of Objections is a formal charge sheet issued by the Commission into suspected violations of EU antitrust rules and is the culmination of its investigation against the parties which began in 2011. Its issue however does not prejudge the final outcome of the investigation.


In 2006, the EU adopted new standards on air conditioning systems in motor vehicles with the aim of reducing harmful emissions and combating global warming. These standards were set out in Council Directive 2006/40/EC sometimes referred to as the Mobile Air Conditioning Systems Directive (‘MAC‘) Directive. The MAC Directive requires the use of refrigerants with a global warming potential (‘GWP‘) below 150 in all new car models sold in the EU as of 1 January 2011, and in all new cars as of 1 January 2017.

A new refrigerant known as R-1234yf, which is intended for use in future car air conditioning systems, was announced as a suitable global replacement for the previous refrigerant R134a, which did not meet new EU rules as regards its global warming potential. The selection of R-1234yf is the result of a process conducted under the auspices of the Society of Automotive Engineers, which represents the interests of all groups involved in the automotive sector.

Honeywell and DuPont are the only two suppliers of R-1234yf to carmakers.

The Commission’s provisional finding as set out in the Statement of Objections was that the cooperation between Honeywell and DuPont on production of R-1234yf had reduced their decision-making independence and resulted in restrictive effects on competition. These effects include a limitation of the available quantities of the new refrigerant that would have otherwise been brought to the market, as well as a limitation of related technical development. The Commission believed that this behaviour may infringe Article 101 of the TFEU and Article 53 of the EEA (European Economic Area) Agreement that prohibit anti-competitive agreements.

In addition the Commission originally examined in its investigation whether Honeywell engaged in deceptive conduct during the evaluation of R-1234yf between 2007 and 2009. It claimed that Honeywell did not disclose its patents and patent applications while the refrigerant was being assessed and then failed to grant licences on fair and reasonable (so called “FRAND”) terms. However these allegations were not pursued in the Statement of Objections.

Future Action

The parties now have approximately 4 weeks to respond to the Commission’s alleged violations of the EU antitrust rules. Following the parties exercising their rights of Defence, if the Commission still believes that the parties’ cooperation appreciably restrict competition in the EU, it can issue a Decision condemning the parties’ behaviour, demanding changes in the parties’ conduct and imposing a fine of up to 10% of their Groups’ worldwide turnover.

If the Commission does condemn the parties’ conduct, they will become liable to aggrieved third parties for any damage the parties’ restrictive behaviour has caused in proceedings in the national courts of the EU Member States.

See original article


See also:

April 7, 2016. Honeywell signs R1234yf deal in China.

November 16, 2014. Mercedes takes aim at ‘toxic’ R1234yf air conditioning coolant.

October 27, 2014. Chilling effect – EU Commission alleges possible collusion over in car air conditioning systems.

October 22, 2014. Honeywell hits back over EU Commision’s 1234yf ‘Objection’. Refrigeration and Air Conditioning News.

October 21, 2014. Antitrust: Commission sends Statement of Objections to Honeywell and DuPont regarding cooperation on new refrigerant used in car air conditioning systems. Press release of the European Commission.

October 21, 2014. DuPont Statement: European Commission Investigation. Press Release from Dupont.

August 28, 2013. DuPont president claims lifting of Mercedes ban changes nothing. Refrigeration and Air Conditioning News.

July 31, 2013. EU coolant row heats up. Fleet News.

July 10, 2013. Mercedes in war of words with EU over air-con chemicals. Cold War over refrigerants heats up. The Irish Times.

June 26, 2013. SAE: Controversial new vehicle refrigerant safe. Tire Business.

Dec 15, 2012. Mercedes faces off with Honeywell, DuPont over coolant safety. Automotive News. Reuters.

Sept 9, 2011. Honeywell defends “killer refrigerant” against German opposition. ACR News.

May 17, 2006. Greenhouse gas (HFC-134a) for emissions from air-conditioning systems in motor vehicles and amending. Directive 2006/40/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council. Official Journal of the European Union.

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