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Article 81 (agreements and concerted practices)

Article 81 EC prohibits agreements and concerted practices which prevent, restrict or distort competition, insofar as they may affect trade between Member States, unless justified by improvements in production or distribution in accordance with Article 81(3).

This article is numbered 81 in the 1997 consolidated version of the EC Treaty. It was Article 85 in the 1957 Treaty of Rome.

This page provides information on the structure of Article 81, block exemptions and Commission notices and links to related material on the Reckon site.

The structure of Article 81

Article 81 comprises three paragraphs. Article 81(1) sets out a prohibition in the following terms:

(1) The following shall be prohibited as incompatible with the common market: all agreements between undertakings, decisions by associations of undertakings and concerted practices which may affect trade between Member States and which have as their object or effect the prevention, restriction or distortion of competition within the common market, and in particular those which:
(a) directly or indirectly fix purchase or selling prices or any other trading conditions;
(b) limit or control production, markets, technical development, or investment;
(c) share markets or sources of supply;
(d) apply dissimilar conditions to equivalent transactions with other trading parties, thereby placing them at a competitive disadvantage;
(e) make the conclusion of contracts subject to acceptance by the other parties of supplementary obligations which, by their nature or according to commercial usage, have no connection with the subject of such contracts.

Article 81(2) makes prohibited agreements void and thereby unenforceable:

(2) Any agreements or decisions prohibited pursuant to this Article shall be automatically void.

Article 81(3) provides a possible justification for certain agreements that would otherwise be prohibited:

(3) The provisions of paragraph 1 may, however, be declared inapplicable in the case of:
- any agreement or category of agreements between undertakings;
- any decision or category of decisions by associations of undertakings;
- any concerted practice or category of concerted practices,
which contributes to improving the production or distribution of goods or to promoting technical or economic progress, while allowing consumers a fair share of the resulting benefit, and which does not:
(a) impose on the undertakings concerned restrictions which are not indispensable to the attainment of these objectives;
(b) afford such undertakings the possibility of eliminating competition in respect of a substantial part of the products in question.

Council Regulation 1/2003 provides for the application of the Article 81. In particular, it provides that the Article 81(1) prohibition does not apply to any agreement that satisfies the Article 81(3) conditions, without any need for notification of the agreement to the authorities or any declaration of inapplicability of Article 81(1).

Block exemptions and Commission notices

Related material on the Reckon site

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Last changed by at 9:55 PM on Thursday 31 January 2008.

Reference for this page:
Reckon Open "Article 81" 2008-01-31T21:55:31
Link within Reckon Open: [[Article 81]]