Short Reads

Court of Justice rules on the application of competition law to agricultural producer organisations

Court of Justice rules on the application of competition law to agric

Court of Justice rules on the application of competition law to agricultural producer organisations

01.12.2017 EU law

On 14 November 2017, the European Court of Justice rendered its judgment on a request for a preliminary ruling from the French Supreme Court. The Court clarified the conditions under which competition rules must be applied to agricultural producer organisations (POs). POs are established to pursue the objectives of the common agricultural policy and may – if certain criteria are met – be exempted from the competition rules.

In March 2012, the French competition authority found that several undertakings, POs and other market organisations had implemented a cartel in the endive market. The cartel consisted of the fixing of minimum prices, coordination of the quantity of endives placed on the market and the exchange of strategic information. The undertakings and associations subsequently appealed the decision, arguing that the practices in question were necessary to pursue the objectives of the common agricultural policy and should therefore be excluded from the scope of the competition rules. The French Supreme Court asked preliminary questions to the Court of Justice on the issue.

According to the Court, the common agricultural policy takes precedence over the objectives in the field of competition. However, the common organisation of markets in agricultural products is not a competition-free zone. The Court therefore examined whether the practices of POs and associations of POs (APOs), such as those at issue, are excluded from the scope of the competition rules.

First of all, it is required that the practices of the POs and APOs are necessary to achieve the objectives of the common agricultural policy. According to the Court, this means that the practice is implemented by an entity that is recognized by the Member State as a PO or an APO and that is entitled to pursue the objectives of the common agricultural policy. Moreover, only coordination between producers that are members of the same recognized PO or APO can be justified.

Secondly, the practices must also be proportionate to the pursuit of the objectives assigned to the PO or APO. The Court ruled that the exchange of strategic information between producers is liable to be proportionate, as well as the concentration of supply to strengthen the position of producers vis-à-vis the greater concentration of demand. However, the Court concluded that the collective fixing of minimum sales may not be considered to be proportionate since it has the effect of reducing the already low level of competition in the markets for agricultural products.  

With its judgment, the Court clarified the conditions under which agreements on prices or quantity, or the exchange of information by members of such an organisation may escape the prohibition of Article 101 TFEU.

This article was published in the Competition Law Newsletter of December 2017. Other articles in this newsletter:

  1. Court of Justice dismisses appeal of British Airways in Air Cargo case
  2. National courts may declare that a practice infringes competition law after it was the subject of a commitment decision
  3. General Court partially annuls the Commission's ICAP decision (in the YIRD case)

Team

Related news

20.06.2018 NL law
Op weg naar één Europese spoorwegruimte: de aanpassing van de Nederlandse wetgeving aan het Europese recht

Articles - Het zogenaamde 'Vierde Spoorwegpakket' zal belangrijke gevolgen hebben voor de Europese spoorwegruimte. De Nederlandse regering maakt goede vaart met de aanpassing van het nationale recht aan de eisen die uit het Vierde Spoorwegpakket voortvloeien. Inmiddels is een daartoe strekkend wetsvoorstel aanhangig bij de Tweede Kamer. De vaste commissie voor Infrastructuur en Waterstaat heeft eind vorige maand het verslag van haar bevindingen ten aanzien van het wetsvoorstel uitgebracht.

Read more

01.06.2018 EU law
European Court of Justice rules EY did not violate stand-still obligation in Danish merger

Short Reads - On 31 May 2018, the European Court of Justice ruled that Ernst & Young (EY) did not illegally implement the acquisition of KPMG Denmark (KPMG DK) before obtaining antitrust clearance.  Following the announcement of the transaction, KPMG DK terminated a cooperation agreement. According to the Court, that act cannot be regarded as a violation of the stand-still obligation since it did not contribute to the change of control of the target undertaking.

Read more

20.06.2018 NL law
Naar een volwaardig recht op toegang tot de rechter en een eerlijk proces onder het EVRM?

Articles - Het recht op een toegang tot de rechter en een eerlijk proces van artikel 6 EVRM is één van de hoekstenen van dit verdrag. Naast strafzaken en zaken over bestuurlijke boetes vallen de meeste andere geschillen onder het toepassingsbereik van deze bepaling. Dit omdat er volgens de autonome Straatsburgse uitleg al snel sprake is van een geschil over de vaststelling van ‘civil rights and obligations’ als bedoeld in artikel 6 EVRM.

Read more

05.06.2018 EU law
New EU rules to reduce marine pollution

Articles - Plastic pollution has become a key environmental concern. And it is not surprising why: according to a recent study, of the 8.3 billion metric tons of plastics that have been produced so far, 6.3 billion metric tons has become plastic waste. Of this plastic waste, 79% is accumulating either in landfill sites or in the oceans. Therefore, on 28 May 2018 the EU Commission issued a new draft Directive aimed at tackling marine litter by addressing single use plastic items and abandoned fishing gear.

Read more

Our website uses cookies: third party analytics cookies to best adapt our website to your needs & cookies to enable social media functionalities. For more information on the use of cookies, please check our Privacy and Cookie Policy. Please note that you can change your cookie opt-ins at any time via your browser settings.

Privacy – en cookieverklaring