Relaxing whilst doing Competition Law is not an Oxymoron

The Spanish Competition Authority declares a collective bargaining agreement contrary to EC and Spanish competition law

with 3 comments

Collective bargaining

The CNC (Spanish Competition Authority) recently adopted a decision sanctioning a stevedoring trade association (over 900.000 euros) and several labor unions (with fines ranging from 3.000 to 168.000 euros) for having concluded a collective bargaining agreement contrary to Articles 81 EC and 1 LDC (Spanish Competition Law).

In my previous life, I represented one of the parties found guilty of infringement. I therefore believe it is inappropriate for me to write anything infuriated on this decision. Yet,  a number of purely objective thoughts spring to mind: if, arguably, this decision departs from the ECJ’s ruling in Albany, it may actually provide a vivid illustration of the flaws of Regulation 1/2003, in so far that it seeks – through various mechanisms – to ensure uniformity in the enforcement of EC competition law.  If, on the contrary, the CNC did get this right, the question arises whether one should expect other National Competition Authorities to start scrutinizing collective bargaining arrangements.
The decision (in Spanish) can be found here

Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

13 October 2009 at 9:23 pm

Posted in Guest bloggers

3 Responses

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  1. Alfonso,
    I thought you might be interested to know that the French Competition Authority (at the time the Conseil de la Concurrence) found in its decision 90-D-21 of 26 June 1990 that a collective bargaining agreement could amount to a collective boycott. You may also be interested in reviewing the press release available (in English) on the French Competition Authority’s website on a more recent and ongoing case which has some interesting features on the relationship between employment law and competition rules :


    20 October 2009 at 10:45 am

    • Many thanks Guillaume, I’d heard about the first case, but I didn’t know about the ongoing one. The press release is very interesting.

      The Spanish Competition Authority had also previously sanctioned collective bargaining agreements which were declared to be instrumental to price fixing (Case 607/06, ‘Ayuda a domicilio’), and has recently settled two other similar cases (see link below).

      However, in all French and Spanish precedents the agreements were condemned under national law, whereas in the case I commented on the blog the CNC has applied Spanish and EC rules in parallel (which means, inter alia, that the Commisson had to be informed pursuant to art. 11(4) of Reg. 1/2003).

      Thanks again for the comment!


      Alfonso Lamadrid

      22 October 2009 at 3:08 am

  2. […] the CNC won’t discuss this and will rather consider that in addition to info exchanges or collective bargaining agreements, public speeches such as this one constitute a restriction by their object..) in view of the number […]

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