European Community Competition Procedure

By Luis Ortiz Blanco | Go to book overview

1

The Institutional Framework

section 1: SOURCES OF PROCEDURE1

A. Substantive Provisions

The basic Community competition provisions applicable to businesses or undertakings are Articles 85 and 86 of the EC Treaty (previously the 'EEC Treaty'). These prohibit both agreements restrictive of competition which may be authorized in certain circumstances and abuses of a dominant position in the market which can never be authorized. EC competition policy has been forged on the basis of those two tenets, reflecting the tenor of Article 3(g) (previously Article 3(f)) of the EC Treaty.

The competition rules have become even more important with the entry into force of the Treaty on European Union (the Maastricht Treaty),2 and the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA Agreement).3 The new Articles 3a(1) and 102a of the EC Treaty have reinforced the 'principle of an open market economy with free competition', and Articles 53 and 54 of the EEA Agreement have reproduced, for implementation throughout the territory of the contracting parties, the provisions of Articles 85 and 86 of the EC Treaty.

The application of competition rules often calls for complicated economic analyses of market conditions and the conduct of undertakings. This complexity distinguishes the procedures for the application of competition law from many procedures under national law governing the determination of commercial disputes. Competition law procedures often make it necessary for the public authorities to take economic policy decisions based on considerations of public interest and objectives of social welfare which fall outside the traditional sphere of activity of national courts. Furthermore, EC competition law extends beyond the interests of any one Member State and seeks to attain specific economic objectives on a much greater scale. All these features, together with the principle of limited intervention laid down in Article 87 of the EC Treaty and

____________________
1
This section has been prepared with considerable help from Ben van Houtte, who was to have been co-author of this work but was obliged to withdraw from the project for reasons beyond his control. His notes were used as a basis for the text which follows.
2
The TEU is published, together with the complete text of the Treaty establishing the EC, in OJ 1992 C 334, p. 1.
3
The text of the EEA Agreement appears in European Communities. Council/Commission, Agreement on the European Economic Area, Office for Official Publications of the EC, Luxembourg, 1992. See the appendix at the end of this book for a discussion of EEA competition law.

-4-

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