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 NL 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

09.01.2020 NL law
Deleting WhatsApp chats during dawn raids may cost you dearly

Short Reads - Companies should be aware that the Dutch competition authority (ACM) will not only examine electronic records and emails, but can also check WhatsApp messages during dawn raids. The ACM recently imposed a fine of EUR 1.84 million on a company for non-cooperation with a dawn raid; its highest fine so far for non-cooperation. Several of the company’s employees had left WhatsApp groups and deleted chats before handing over their mobile phones for inspection.

Read more

16.01.2020 NL law
De Amsterdamse milieuzone voor brom- en snorfietsen: voertuigen van een bepaald jaar weren is mogelijk bij ontbreken van een redelijk alternatief

Short Reads - ABRvS 20 november 2019, ECLI:NL:RVS:2019:3865 Deze blog is het vierde deel in een reeks Stibbeblogs over gemeentelijke milieuzones. In 2017 oordeelde de Afdeling over de milieuzone voor personen- en bestelauto’s met dieselmotoren in Utrecht. In 2018 presenteerde de staatssecretaris van Infrastructuur en Waterstaat haar beleid voor harmonisatie van uiteenlopende gemeentelijke milieuzones. Een jaar geleden maakten wij in een FAQ de balans op over de harmonisatie van milieuzones.

Read more

09.01.2020 NL law
Access to the file in Dutch competition procedures: too little too late?

Short Reads - Companies beware: the ACM’s and European Commission’s approach to access to the file are not aligned. According to an interim relief judge, the ACM cannot be forced to grant a company access to a broader set of documents in competition procedures. A potential error in the administrative procedure can be remedied before a court at a later stage. This is different to the right to access to the Commission’s file during administrative procedures, as acknowledged in EU case law.

Read more

10.01.2020 NL law
Is het mededingingsrecht de reddingsboei van zwakke zzp’ers?

Articles - Het toenemende aantal zzp'ers heeft ook mededingingsrechtelijke gevolgen. Volgens de ACM werkt de markt namelijk niet goed als zzp'ers door lage uurtarieven onder het bestaansminimum komen. Jan Truijens Martinez en Simone Evans bespreken in het Tijdschrift voor Arbeidsrecht in Context hoe eventuele belemmeringen die het mededingingsrecht opwerpt bij de bescherming van zzp'ers kunnen worden beperkt en of het mededingingsrecht eigenlijk wel het juiste instrument daarvoor is? 

Read more

09.01.2020 NL law
Competition rules and globalisation to face off in 2020

Short Reads - 2020 will likely revolve around the question whether competition rules should yield to globalisation and digitisation, with suggestions ranging from mere tweaks to competition rules to complementary regulation. Greater cooperation across data protection, consumer protection and competition law appears inevitable. Speedier solutions in more informal settings may become a reality, alongside more frequent use of behavioural remedies.

Read more

Our website uses functional cookies for the functioning of the website and analytic cookies that enable us to generate aggregated visitor data. We also use other cookies, such as third party tracking cookies - please indicate whether you agree to the use of these other cookies:

Privacy – en cookieverklaring