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Article 82 (abuse of a dominant position)

Article 82 EC prohibits the abuse of a dominant position insofar as it may affect trade between Member States.

This article is numbered 82 in the 1997 consolidated version of the EC Treaty. It was Article 86 in the 1957 Treaty of Rome.

The full text of Article 82 is as follows:

"Any abuse by one or more undertakings of a dominant position within the common market or in a substantial part of it shall be prohibited as incompatible with the common market insofar as it may affect trade between Member States.
Such abuse may, in particular, consist in:
(a) directly or indirectly imposing unfair purchase or selling prices or other unfair trading conditions;
(b) limiting production, markets or technical development to the prejudice of consumers;
(c) applying dissimilar conditions to equivalent transactions with other trading parties, thereby placing them at a competitive disadvantage;
(d) making 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."

Council Regulation 1/2003 provides for the application of this prohibition.

This page provides links related to the DG Competition review of Article 82 enforcement, related statutory provisions, official guidance, and cases covered on the Reckon website and other Reckon links.

DG Competition review of Article 82 enforcement

DG Competition of the European Commission conducted a review between 2005 and 2008 of some of its priorities for enforcing Article 82.

In December 2008, DG Competition published guidance on its priorities for enforcing Article 82 in cases of alleged abusive exclusionary conduct.

The December 2008 guidance (27 pages, PDF) is a slimmed down version of a December 2005 discussion paper (72 pages, PDF) on the application of Article 82 of the EC Treaty to exclusionary abuses.

The December 2005 paper had tried to set out "possible principles" for the Commission's enforcement of Article 82 in cases of conduct by a dominant undertaking that could impede actual or potential competitors' ability to compete in a market. The paper did not address exploitative or discriminatory abuses; nor did it consider the application of Article 82 in conjunction with Article 86. The paper put forward a number of ideas as to how the Commission might approach the investigation. These included an explanation of the relevance of a profit sacrifice test for the assessment of predation, and a suggestion as to how conduct by a dominant undertaking might be examined under an "efficiency defence".

Statements about the process for the review leading to the December 2005 paper were made by Philip Lowe, the Director General of DG Competition. In a March 2005 speech (13 pages, PDF), he announced that DG Competition will produce working papers on some of the central issues of Article 82 — dominance and some of the major abuses such as predation, bundling, refusals to deal and loyalty rebates. Another lecture by Philip Lowe in June 2005 provided an update on progress and on the approach taken to the review.

Reckon comment: see Philip Lowe lecture 24 June 2005 | viewpoint: Franck.

A further update was provided by Neelie Kroes, the Commissioner in charge of DG Competition, in a speech on 23 September 2005. This confirms the limited scope of the exercise and the focus on explaining theories of abuse for the most frequent types of abusive behaviour that have "market distorting" effects. Exploitative abuses will apparently be considered in a second phase.

Reckon comment: It may seem a little surprising that Mrs Kroes did not discuss the potential complementary of private and public enforcement, especially in the light of the proposed prioritisation for public enforcement of exclusionary abuses which are not "simply the foreclosure of one or two competitors" — which are also the cases least suitable for private relief (e.g. injunctions). On technical matters, the speech does not provide sufficient details of the thinking within DG Competition to establish whether new analytical approaches to matters such as possible "efficiency" justifications for otherwise abusive conduct have been included in the (confidential) draft currently under review by national competition authorities.

DG Competition had also published in July 2005 a report (53 pages, PDF) of the anti-trust subgroup of the Economic Advisory Group for Competition Policy, a "group of distinguished academic economists advising DG Competition and the Commissioner for Competition". This was covered by a DG Competition introduction and disclaimer (2 pages, PDF).

Reckon comment: Although the report raises some useful points, the overall approach and particular recommendations advanced are so far removed from established EC law on abuse of a dominant position that it is difficult to see how the European Commission will be able to reflect the report in any guidelines that it produces about Article 82 enforcement.

Related statutory provisions

Official guidance

Cases covered on the Reckon website

Court of Justice of the European Communities (including CFI)

UK courts (including Competition Appeal Tribunal)

Administrative decisions

Other Reckon links

News items related to the Article 82 prohibition

See our list of Reckon news items tagged "Article 82".

Articles related to the Article 82 prohibition

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Last changed by Franck at 11:29 AM on Wednesday 3 December 2008.

Reference for this page:
Reckon Open "Article 82" 2008-12-03T11:29:50
Link within Reckon Open: [[Article 82]]