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Business Articles Awards > General Antitrust

The Battle Between the European Union’s Competition and Agricultural Policies

Jay Modrall, Norton Rose Fulbright, June 2016

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In late 2015, a case before the European Court of Justice (the ECJ) addressed the tensions between the European Union’s (EU’s) Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and EU competition policy. The CAP’s objectives involve concerted action to stabilise prices and to adjust production to demand, which often conflicts with EU competition law principles. If a conflict occurs, the ECJ has long held that the CAP’s objectives prevail over EU and national competition law. The most recent example of this is the 2003 Milk Marque decision. The EU institutions have adopted a series of regulations and guidelines, which aim to reconcile EU competition law principles with the CAP. Council Regulation 1308/2013 established a common organization of the markets in agricultural products (the CMO Regulation). The regulation provides for general and special derogations, which allow EU farmers to cooperate in joint selling activities that might otherwise be prohibited. In December 2015, the European Commission adopted guidelines (the Guidelines) on the application of the specific derogations to the joint selling of olive oil, beef and veal and arable crops.

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