Administrative Harmonization: Competition Policy
Competition law provisions of the EC Treaty concern restrictive practices by undertakings, state aid and state monopolies, and public undertakings. These provisions oppose restrictive practices or State measures which may affect trade between Member States. Hence, they may be regarded as embodying trade liberalization requirements. However, in the elaboration of the requirements so embodied, which is primarily an administrative responsibility of the Commission, account may have to be taken of other requirements also embodied in competition law provisions and in the Treaty more generally.1 The outcomes of interactions entailed between the trade liberalization and other requirements concerned -- and the associated resolutions of policy conflicts -- may be expressed as competition policy.
The Free Trade Agreements revealed little concern for such complexities. They merely provided that restrictive practices by undertakings and 'public' aid2 were incompatible with the Agreements, in so far as trade between the Parties was affected. The Europe Agreements go further and provide for application of Community competition law 'criteria' to trade between the Parties. The EEA Agreement goes even further. It contains provisions substantially identical to those of Community competition law, and the Preamble states that the Agreement is designed to establish a dynamic and homogeneous European Economic Area, based on equal conditions of competition.3 Hence, uniform interpretation and application of the Agreement and those provisions of Community law substantially reproduced therein are sought, so as to arrive at equal treatment of individuals and economic operators as regards the four freedoms and the conditions of competition.4 To this end, Article 1(2)(e) of the Agreement provides for the setting up of a system ensuring that competition is not distorted and that the rules thereon are equally respected. This system not____________________