`European Commission Issues New Guidelines on 'Joint Selling' of Olive Oil and Other Foods - Olive Oil Times

European Commission Issues New Guidelines on 'Joint Selling' of Olive Oil and Other Foods

Dec. 2, 2015
Isabel Putinja

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The European Commission has announced new guide­lines on the joint sell­ing of olive oil, beef and veal, and arable crops. The aim of the guide­lines is to clar­ify how and under which con­di­tions European farm­ers can coop­er­ate to jointly sell olive oil, beef, veal, and arable crops.

The goal of EU antitrust pol­icy is to pro­mote fair com­pe­ti­tion between dif­fer­ent oper­a­tors i.e. man­u­fac­tur­ers, sup­pli­ers, or firms sell­ing a prod­uct on the mar­ket.

Under EU antitrust law, there are two main rules in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. Article 101 of the treaty pro­hibits agree­ments between two or more oper­a­tors which would restrict com­pe­ti­tion.

An exam­ple could be the cre­ation of car­tels among rival com­pa­nies who fix prices at a cer­tain level in order to share a mar­ket, and restrict com­pe­ti­tion from other com­pa­nies.

Under Article 102 of the same treaty, com­pa­nies that dom­i­nate a cer­tain mar­ket can­not abuse their posi­tion to the detri­ment of con­sumers by charg­ing unrea­son­able prices, lim­it­ing pro­duc­tion, or refus­ing to inno­vate.

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The new guide­lines, announced in a press release pub­lished on November 27, 2015, set out three effi­ciency-based” dero­ga­tions to EU antitrust rules that allow pro­duc­ers of olive oil, beef and veal, and arable crops to jointly sell and set prices, vol­umes and other terms for their goods through rec­og­nized orga­ni­za­tions, and under cer­tain con­di­tions.

According to these con­di­tions, by join­ing such an orga­ni­za­tion, farm­ers must be able to ben­e­fit from sup­port­ing activ­i­ties other than sales. Such activ­i­ties include stor­age, trans­port and dis­tri­b­u­tion.

Also, vol­umes of goods jointly mar­keted can­not exceed a cer­tain thresh­old. For olive oil, this is set at 20 per­cent of the rel­e­vant mar­ket. The guide­lines are also meant for com­pe­ti­tion and judi­cial author­i­ties in the EU mem­ber states so they can apply these rules in a con­sis­tent man­ner.

The pub­li­ca­tion of the new guide­lines fol­lows a pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion on a draft text released by the European Commission, as well as con­sul­ta­tion with the European Parliament and rel­e­vant author­i­ties in each of the EU mem­ber states.

The EU’s olive oil, beef and veal, and arable crops mar­kets have an annual worth of more than €80 bil­lion ($85 bil­lion). The EU is the world’s lead­ing pro­ducer, con­sumer and exporter of olive oil.



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