Banking Agreements under the aegis of Competition Law*

In the introduction, Professeur Blanche Sousi-Roubi (University Lyon 3, Director of the Institut de droit et d’économie des affaires) gives a short overview on the competition rules applicable to the banking and finance agreements.

In a first detailed study, Bernard Van de Walle de Ghelcke (Professor Europa College, Avocat, Brusells Bar) explains that although the phenomenon of cooperation agreements in the banking sector is not new, there are mainly two reasons why at this stage it nevertheless deserves an analysis under EC Competition law. First, the interim report on the Commission’s sector inquiry into retail banking highlights potential competition problems relating to payment systems, such as the risk of foreclosure arising from membership requirements, access fees, infrastructure control and technical specifications, or the possible anticompetitive effects of interchange fee agreements. Second, the emergence of the SEPA project and the underlying pan-European cooperation add a new dimension to this phenomenon, one which requires the separation of payment schemes from infrastructures and the regulation of both the definition and implementation of standards and common rules with a view to preserving effective competition.

In the second detailed study, Eduardo Martinez-Rivero et Jean Allix (DG COMP, D1, «Financial Services») insists that the banking system requires interbank agreements. These agreements are subject to competition law. The article examines the various types of agreements, particularly those which concern the multilateral fees ("Multilateral Interchange Fees" or "MIF"). It reviews the development of the European Commission’s analysis and explains the prospects created by the Commission’s sector inquiry.

* This document is a set of 2 papers of the round-table discussion on Agreements in the Banking and Finance Sectors, held for the Conference "Banque, Finance et Concurrence", Paris, 30 November 2006.

Document available in pdf. version only (attached), in French.

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Blanche Sousi, Bernard van de Walle de Ghelcke, Eduardo Martínez-Rivero, Jean Allix, Banking Agreements under the aegis of Competition Law*, February 2007, Concurrences Review N° 1-2007, Art. N° 13187, pp. 68-81

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