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Certifiering och konkurrens - Kan avtal om certifiering vara konkurrensbegränsande?

Wahlgren, Joakim LU (2017) JURM02 20171
Department of Law
Abstract
Certifying products with the purpose to better position products on the market is common. To distinguishing certification from standardization and labeling of products is difficult. There is no uniform definition of certification. According to case law, the Commission's guidelines, and the Swedish Competition Authority's report; certification is defined as a product being assessed according to a certain predetermined standard and that a certificate is issued by a third independent party.

There are several parties involved in a certification agreement. The purpose of this thesis is to investigate the conflict that may arise when a certification agreement can end up in collision with the EU's prohibition of anti-competitive agreements... (More)
Certifying products with the purpose to better position products on the market is common. To distinguishing certification from standardization and labeling of products is difficult. There is no uniform definition of certification. According to case law, the Commission's guidelines, and the Swedish Competition Authority's report; certification is defined as a product being assessed according to a certain predetermined standard and that a certificate is issued by a third independent party.

There are several parties involved in a certification agreement. The purpose of this thesis is to investigate the conflict that may arise when a certification agreement can end up in collision with the EU's prohibition of anti-competitive agreements and what implications this hold for the consumers. To investigate this, current EU law must be described, systematized and interpreted. This means that an EU legal dogmatic method is used. Case law must be analyzed on both EU- and national-level in order to meet the consumer perspective and to analyze the practical effects of certification.

Certification can be beneficial for consumers and society. Consumers gain access to information and can make informed choices without having to search for the information themselves. Other values such as environmental values and animal rights can benefit from certification. If certification would increase the demand for healthier products, society's healthcare costs could be reduced. Nevertheless, certification can cause an anti-competitive behavior. This thesis examines the impact of certification on competition in the light of economic theories, EU competition law and case law. The most common behavior found has been to limit production primarily in the food industry where quality labels are used to control production. There have also been cases where a narrow product category is defined and used to create disadvantage for competitors, which has led to creating high barriers to entry, limiting production and impaired pricing competition. In some cases the certification surveillance system were used in order to disfavor competitors. Moreover, cooperation on certification schemes gives companies an opportunity to meet and discuss prices or market divisions. In the end, it is the consumers that will be affected by these anti-competitive behaviors, by higher prices and lower supply.

The positive aspects of certification have not resulted in significant case law where certification agreements have been able to be justified under the exception rule in Article 101.3 in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. It could be assumed that certification agreements, which are predominantly positive, never will end up under the Commission's radar. However, there is no guarantee that a well-made agreement will not have anti-competitive effects. However, there are certain requirements that should be complied with. A certification system should be open, transparent, independent and accessible to all, in order not to compromise competition. (Less)
Abstract (Swedish)
Det är vanligt att märka ut produkter med ett visst märke men gränsdragningen mellan certifiering, standardisering och märkning av produkter är inte enkel att göra. Det finns inte någon enhetlig definition av certifiering men i rättspraxis, Kommissionens riktlinjer samt i Konkurrensverkets rapport definieras certifiering som att en produkt bedöms enligt en viss förutbestämd standard och att ett intyg utfärdas av en tredje oberoende part.

Det är flera aktörer inblandade vid ett avtal om certifiering. Uppsatsens syfte är att utreda den konflikt som kan uppstå när ett avtal om certifiering kan hamna i kollision med EU:s förbud mot konkurrensbegränsande avtal och vad det innebär för konsumenterna. För att utreda detta måste gällande... (More)
Det är vanligt att märka ut produkter med ett visst märke men gränsdragningen mellan certifiering, standardisering och märkning av produkter är inte enkel att göra. Det finns inte någon enhetlig definition av certifiering men i rättspraxis, Kommissionens riktlinjer samt i Konkurrensverkets rapport definieras certifiering som att en produkt bedöms enligt en viss förutbestämd standard och att ett intyg utfärdas av en tredje oberoende part.

Det är flera aktörer inblandade vid ett avtal om certifiering. Uppsatsens syfte är att utreda den konflikt som kan uppstå när ett avtal om certifiering kan hamna i kollision med EU:s förbud mot konkurrensbegränsande avtal och vad det innebär för konsumenterna. För att utreda detta måste gällande EU-rätt beskrivas, systematiseras och tolkas, vilket innebär att en EU-rättslig metod används. I syfte att tillgodose konsumentperspektivet och analysera de praktiska effekterna av certifiering granskas även rättspraxis på både EU-nivå och nationell nivå.

Certifiering är i grunden något positivt. Konsumenter får åtkomst till information och kan göra informerade val utan att själva behöva söka upp informationen. Även andra värden som miljö och djurskydd kan gynnas av certifiering och om certifieringen ökar efterfrågan på hälsosamma produkter kan samhällets vårdkostnader minskas. Det finns trots detta konkurrensbegränsande beteende som certifiering kan medföra. I uppsatsen undersöks påverkan av avtal om certifiering mot bakgrund av ekonomiska teorier, EU:s konkurrensrättsliga regler och rättspraxis. Det vanligaste beteendet har varit att begränsa produktionen. Främst i livsmedelsbranschen där kvalitetsmärken används i syfte att kontrollera produktionen. Det har handlat om fall där en snäv produktkategori definieras för att missgynna konkurrenter, vilket har lett till att skapa höga inträdesbarriärer, begränsa produktionen och försämra priskonkurrensen. Det har också handlat om fall där certifieringens övervakningsmekanismer definierats i syfte att missgynna konkurrenter. Slutligen har det visat sig att samarbete om certifiering ger företag en möjlighet att träffas och diskutera priser eller marknadsuppdelningar. Gemensamt för dessa beteenden är att de i slutändan drabbar konsumenterna då priserna blir högre och utbudet lägre.

De positiva aspekterna av certifiering har inte medfört betydande rättspraxis där avtal om certifiering har kunnat undantas enligt artikel 101.3 FEUF. Det finns anledning att anta att de avtal om certifiering som är övervägande positiva aldrig hamnar under Kommissionens radar. Det finns trots det inte någon garanti för att ett väl utformat avtal inte får en konkurrensbegränsande effekt men det finns vissa principer som bör följas. Ett certifieringssystem bör vara öppet, transparent, oberoende och tillgängligt för alla för att inte riskera att konkurrensen begränsas. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Wahlgren, Joakim LU
supervisor
organization
alternative title
Certification and Competition
course
JURM02 20171
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
konkurrensrätt, certifiering, certifikat, standardisering, standard, konkurrens, kvalitetsmärke
language
Swedish
id
8907041
date added to LUP
2017-06-19 13:43:12
date last changed
2017-06-19 13:43:12
@misc{8907041,
  abstract     = {Certifying products with the purpose to better position products on the market is common. To distinguishing certification from standardization and labeling of products is difficult. There is no uniform definition of certification. According to case law, the Commission's guidelines, and the Swedish Competition Authority's report; certification is defined as a product being assessed according to a certain predetermined standard and that a certificate is issued by a third independent party. 

There are several parties involved in a certification agreement. The purpose of this thesis is to investigate the conflict that may arise when a certification agreement can end up in collision with the EU's prohibition of anti-competitive agreements and what implications this hold for the consumers. To investigate this, current EU law must be described, systematized and interpreted. This means that an EU legal dogmatic method is used. Case law must be analyzed on both EU- and national-level in order to meet the consumer perspective and to analyze the practical effects of certification.

Certification can be beneficial for consumers and society. Consumers gain access to information and can make informed choices without having to search for the information themselves. Other values such as environmental values and animal rights can benefit from certification. If certification would increase the demand for healthier products, society's healthcare costs could be reduced. Nevertheless, certification can cause an anti-competitive behavior. This thesis examines the impact of certification on competition in the light of economic theories, EU competition law and case law. The most common behavior found has been to limit production primarily in the food industry where quality labels are used to control production. There have also been cases where a narrow product category is defined and used to create disadvantage for competitors, which has led to creating high barriers to entry, limiting production and impaired pricing competition. In some cases the certification surveillance system were used in order to disfavor competitors. Moreover, cooperation on certification schemes gives companies an opportunity to meet and discuss prices or market divisions. In the end, it is the consumers that will be affected by these anti-competitive behaviors, by higher prices and lower supply. 

The positive aspects of certification have not resulted in significant case law where certification agreements have been able to be justified under the exception rule in Article 101.3 in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. It could be assumed that certification agreements, which are predominantly positive, never will end up under the Commission's radar. However, there is no guarantee that a well-made agreement will not have anti-competitive effects. However, there are certain requirements that should be complied with. A certification system should be open, transparent, independent and accessible to all, in order not to compromise competition.},
  author       = {Wahlgren, Joakim},
  keyword      = {konkurrensrätt,certifiering,certifikat,standardisering,standard,konkurrens,kvalitetsmärke},
  language     = {swe},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Certifiering och konkurrens - Kan avtal om certifiering vara konkurrensbegränsande?},
  year         = {2017},
}