Relaxing whilst doing Competition Law is not an Oxymoron

Archive for October 7th, 2011

Hammering out Public Restrictions of Competition

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Article 101 and 102 TFEU have little grip against public restrictions of competition.

Of course, Article 4(3) TEU, read in conjunction with Articles 101 and 102 TFEU may provide a legal basis to challenge public restrictions of competition in the context of infringement proceedings. But to date, the Commission has been understandably reluctant to take Member States to Court. And to  the best of our knowledge, the Italian matches case-law (ECJ, Consorzio Industrie Fiammiferi (CIF), C-198/01), which compels NCAs to declare such measures inapplicable, has been little applied in practice.

With this background, it will often fall on “positive integration” measures (read EU regulations) to remove public restrictions of competition. In connection with this, my research assistant Norman Neyrinck recently informed me of an interesting ECJ ruling  that I had overseen.

In  Société fiduciaire nationale d’expertise comptable v. Ministre du Budget, des comptes publics et de la fonction publique (C-119/09) the Court found that Directive 2006/123 on services in the internal market (AKA the “Bolkestein Directive“) “ought  be interpreted as precluding national legislation which totally prohibits the members of a regulated profession, such as the profession of qualified accountant, from engaging in canvassing“.

This is likely to have profound practical implications, given the wide substantive scope of the services directive. Other regulated professions (legal services?) may no longer apply bans on advertising to their members.

And this is likely to also have important cultural consequences. See video hereafter:

Written by Nicolas Petit

7 October 2011 at 9:09 pm

Posted in Case-Law