Largely inspired by the U.S. Antitrust law, the European Commission's rules on competition play a central role in the laws of the European Union. Grouped under Title VI of the European Council's Treaty, these rules concern the "common rules on competition, taxation and approximation of legislation.' The key policy areas of the EU's competition policy involve the agreements made between companies and the abuse of the dominant position, control of concentrations in certain fields, liberalization and State aid.
The objective of this policy on competition is linked to the establishment of an economic democracy that explains that dominant firms are subject to a binding regime. The dominant companies, in fact, have the responsibility to ensure that they " do(es) not overshadow the merits of the competitors to the detriment of consumer welfare and the incentive to continuous innovation. " Unlike Article 81 of the EC and the French law on the abuse of a company's dominant position, Article 82 (of the EC) does not provide the possibility of an exemption.
The abuse of the dominant position also differs from the agreement in that it consists of the rules on the unilateral conduct of a company or a group of companies who form an economic unit. The agreement is, however, a collective behavior of two or more economically independent companies. The prohibition of the abuse of the dominant position is not identical to the control of concentrations between undertakings under the Council Regulation No.139/2004/EC of 20th January, 2004.
Tags: European rules of competition, Treaty of Rome, European Union law
[...] European rules on competition Largely inspired by the U.S. Antitrust law, the European Commission's rules on competition play a central role in the laws of the European Union. Grouped under Title VI of the European Council's Treaty, these rules concern the "common rules on competition, taxation and approximation of legislation.' The key policy areas of the EU's competition policy involve the agreements made between companies and the abuse of the dominant position, control of concentrations in certain fields, liberalization and State aid. [...]
[...] In 1958, this treaty provided (in paragraph that a company that abuses the power that comes with a dominant position was "incompatible with the common market and would affect trade between member states and so, it prohibited one or more undertakings of the abuse of a dominant position in the common market or a substantial part of it " . The applicability of the prohibition under Community law, requires that the abuse of the dominant position correspond to the conditions in the agreement i.e. that it may (might) affect trade between member states. This condition is estimated by the same terms for both forms of barriers to competition. The problem that arises from this is judging when the company abuses its power if the dominant position itself is not prohibited. [...]
[...] As defined by the European Commission in its Communication on 9 December 1997, the relevant geographic market comprises the area where the undertakings concerned are involved in the supply of goods and services. The conditions of the competition must be sufficiently homogeneous and should be distinguished from neighboring areas because the conditions of competition are appreciably different. The Commission has recognized that a dominant position that is held in one market could be abused in a different market than the one it dominates. This, however, would be an exceptional circumstance. [...]
[...] The ECJ added that " Such a position does not exclude the existence of some competition ( . ) but enables the undertaking which it will profit by, if not to determine, at least an appreciable influence on the conditions under which competition will develop ( . (ECJ February 1979, Case 85/76, Hoffmann-La Roche) It is true that conventional indices of dominance are, primarily, the market share. In this respect, it was considered that an entity that held more than 50% of the market share was likely to enjoy this freedom of action (CFI, September Atlantic Container Line and Others c / Commission). [...]
[...] This constitutes an unlawful impediment to competition. However, Article 82 of the EC Treaty does not define this reprehensible exploitation but provides a few examples such as the imposition of the purchase price or sale or other conditions that are unfair trading practices, limiting production to the detriment of consumers or applying dissimilar conditions to trading partners. The list of abuses of Article 82 EC Treaty is not in fact limited to these examples (ECJ November 1996, Tetra Pak International). [...]
Online readingwith our online reader
Content validatedby our reading committee