Collective Agreements and EU Competition Law: Do we need an exemption?

Bradshaw, Shaun (2019) Collective Agreements and EU Competition Law: Do we need an exemption? Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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In Albany, the Court of Justice of the European Union held that collective agreements are exempt from the application of EU competition law such an agreement is (i) concluded between management and labour, or their representatives; and (ii) aimed at improving working terms and conditions. Subjecting collective agreements to competition law would, the Court argued, seriously undermine the social policy objective contained in collective agreements. This thesis examines whether we need to examine collective agreements from the scope of EU competition law. It concludes that, for reasons of legal certainty and predictability, the Albany exemption is necessary.

This thesis does the following. First, the thesis establishes that a trade union is an undertaking under EU competition law when engaged in collective bargaining. As such, EU competition law applies to collective agreements. This conclusion contrasts with EU jurisprudence and academic literature, which argues that a trade union is neither an undertaking nor association of undertakings. Second, the thesis explores Albany within its wider EU constitutional context. It shows that the EU resolves conflicts between objectives in two ways; (i) through interpreting EU law in way that considers wider objectives, and (ii) through balancing through the proportionality assessment. The discussion identifies how the CJEU in Albany balanced the competing objectives, concluding that it did so through a proportionality assessment. Third, the thesis will explore whether the application of Article 101 TFEU undermines the social policy objectives and fundamental rights present within collective agreements. Literature assumes that there is a clash between the respective policy considerations, and that these considerations can be neither reconciled nor accommodated within EU competition law. This thesis questions this approach and shows that such interests can be given adequate weight within Article 101’s analysis. This approach, however, has detrimental effects on collective bargaining.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Law
Depositing User: Jennifer Whitaker
Date Deposited: 03 Jun 2019 10:59
Last Modified: 03 Jun 2019 10:59

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