Agriculture and competition law, towards reconciliation?

What was implicit, and has been established in November 2017 by the Court of Justice in the judgment on endives, has been specifically laid down by the European legislator in the omnibus regulation of December 2017: the prohibition on cartels does not apply to producer organizations and inter-branch organizations, provided the objectives of the common agricultural policy are implemented. This clarification calls for two warnings. The first warning addresses the actors of the agriculture sector. This clarification is not an outright exemption. From now on producer and inter-branch organizations should aim to a proper analysis of any form whatsoever of exemption conditions in order to make the most of the possibilities. The advice issued by the Competition Authority last May should provide some help. The second warning addresses the French legislator and Government. The bill, currently under consideration, follows the General Assembly of the second half of 2017. The terrible situation of farmers is acknowledged, but the clarification on the applicability of Article 101 TFEU alone is not sufficient to solve the structural problems faced by farmers. Moreover, the French legislator has already failed several times in its search for other levers. Various avenues are explored to succeed in this task. First the contractualisation recommended by the Competition Authority, introduced in the Rural Code in 2013, is in the spotlight again. This time it is made compulsory, though, and with a daring correlation between upstream and downstream contract prices. Also, Title IV of the Commercial Code, so criticized because of its ineffectiveness, is in the eye of the hurricane. The extent of the prohibition of resale below cost is pointed out in experimental mode and, above all, the Government requests an authorization to reword this Title. The challenge that the Government is setting out for itself is huge. Every effort must be done to save the farmers.

*This article is an automatic translation of the original article, provided here for your convenience. Read the original article. Introduction Catherine Prieto Professor, University Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris I) - IRJS 1. The singular powerlessness of public authorities to guarantee fair trade relations in the agricultural and food sector! It is not new. Economic historians teach us that, as early as antiquity, experiences around the Mediterranean basin revealed a tension between free trade and administrative [1]control. Moreover, it was under the pressure of famines that the awareness of the harmfulness of monopolies and cartels, then called "coalitions", was born. In response to crises, the political authorities have always resorted to a meticulous and often ineffective regulation,

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Caroline Bellone, Daniel Fasquelle, Marie-Alice Fasquelle-Leonetti, Jean-Christophe Grall, Catherine Prieto, Léna Sersiron, Juliette Théry, Julia Xoudis, Romain Travade, Agriculture and competition law, towards reconciliation?, September 2018, Concurrences N° 3-2018, Art. N° 87501, pp. 19-43

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