The Competition Authority publishes a study on professional bodies

The Competition Authority is devoting a study to the application of competition law to these players.

An exposed activity, a structural risk

The functioning of professional bodies can be conducive to anti-competitive activities, such as price agreements, information exchanges or concerted actions aimed at slowing down the development of competition. Numerous cases show that trade unions and professional organizations can quite easily be the catalysts or facilitators of prohibited practices, whether they are the support or the instigator. This risk is structural insofar as these bodies bring together the players in a market, which are in competition with one another.

A significant change in the fine limit in 2021

Until now in France, the amount of the fine imposed on an association of companies could not exceed 3 million euros. The ceiling of the fine incurred has been raised to 10 % of the sum of the turnover of the member companies of the organizations since the adoption of the ECN + directive. As a result, professional bodies and member companies are now exposed to very heavy fines for infringements.

Raise awareness to prevent competitive risk

The Authority has decided to support this development by dedicating a study to professional organizations. The aim is to analyze, in the light of decision-making practice and case law, all the behaviors that are likely to be contrary to competition law and to compare these with the pro-competitive actions that can be taken by professional bodies.

Promote compliance initiatives

More than ever, professional organizations are invited to become players in the service of compliance, by enlightening their members on competition risk as part of their training and information actions. To prevent any risk in this area, they must be extra careful in their exchanges and their internal rules, in particular of membership, and in their external communication, in order to prevent their practices from falling under the caudine forks of the right of competition.

President of the Competition Authority

“Spurred on by the new European framework, the“ competition risk ”is now increased tenfold for professional bodies if they engage in agreements or other anti-competitive practices. We wanted to anticipate this development by providing an educational study intended for decision-makers, which is an analysis grid of authorized and prohibited behaviors: in a word, a “turnkey” tool to promote compliance procedures. The study is accompanied by a vade-mecum listing good and bad practices. I hope that this work will be useful and will allow professional organizations and all their members to prevent the “competition risk” inherent in their activity. "


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