- Learn About The Law
- Small Business
- International Trade
- Other International Trade Topics
- Overview of European Union competition law
Overview of European Union competition law
European Union (EU) competition law protects consumer welfare by encouraging businesses to produce what the consumer wants, develop innovative products and services, and reduce prices.
In doing so, small and medium-sized businesses should get a fair chance to compete against larger businesses.
The competition law deals specifically with anti-competitive behaviour such as:
- Monopolies - where a single business takes advantage of being the only, or strongest, business providing a service. For more information, see the page in this guide on anti-trust law.
- Mergers - when businesses merge, this must not reduce competition in that market sector. For more information, see the page in this guide on mergers law.
- Cartels - agreements between businesses in the same industry to be uncompetitive. For example, by agreeing to jointly raise prices. For more information, see the page in this guide on cartels legislation.
- State aid - which is allowed only under certain circumstances. For more information, see the page in this guide on state aid and regional aid.
The Directorate General for Competition of the European Commission enforces EU competition law in co-operation with the National Competition Authorities across member states. It can:
- investigate businesses and industries
- start court proceedings against member businesses and member states
- investigate business sectors
- fine businesses that are acting uncompetitively
- give its opinion on proposed mergers that have an effect within a number of member states
The Directorate also supports free competition across the EU by advising other Directorates, holding public consultations, producing reports on the state of competition in the EU and promoting best practice. It also helps countries wanting to join the EU to ensure their laws are aligned with European law.
This content is subject to Crown Copyright
- Business Link
Guest Blog: Social Media Putting Stress on Relationships, Says Survey
A new survey has revealed that relationships are under pressure from the increasing prevalence of social media. The growth of platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, along with the increasing prevalence of messengers such as WhatsApp and Snapchat, has...
Medical law: Department of Health contemplates new law to protect pharmacists making honest mistakes dispensing medication
The government plans to introduce a new law that would shield pharmacists from prosecution if they make genuine errors dispensing medication, the Department of Health reports. The Department of Health (DoH) has proposed the introduction of new legislation preventing pharmacists...
Discrimination: Republic of Ireland becomes first country in world to legalise same-sex marriage by public vote
The Republic of Ireland has voted 'yes' to legalising same-sex marriage 22 years after the de-criminalisation of homosexuality, The Guardian reports. In an historic referendum, the Republic of Ireland has voted in favour of amending the country's written constitution to...
Motoring law: Study shows young drivers unaware of drug driving law change
A study carried out by the car insurance firm, Carrot Car Insurance, has found that young drivers are unaware of the change in the laws relating to drug driving, the Press Association reports. Research conducted by a car insurance firm...
Criminal law: Hampshire police agrees £20,000 out-of-court settlement with rape victim after failed investigation
Hampshire Constabulary has issued a formal apology to a rape victim and agreed a £20,000 out-of-court settlement payment following officers' failure to properly investigate her allegations, the BBC reports. The failure of Hampshire police to properly investigate a rape victim's...
European law: Pesticide laws dropped due to US pressure
Newly released documents show the EU shelved laws that would have regulated the use of hormone-damaging pesticides due to pressure from US trade officials over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) free trade deal. Originally, the EU had drafted...
International: Calls made for UN Peacekeepers to lose sexual abuse immunity
A group of experts have called for an end to end UN peacekeepers' immunity from prosecution in situations involving sexual abuse. The group, including UN official and former diplomats as well as Graca Machel, the author of the study "The...
Immigration law: Immigration Bill could see police seize illegal foreign workers' wages
The Immigration Bill will include a new criminal offence of illegal working, empowering the police to seize the wages of illegal foreign workers, the BBC reports. The Prime Minister, David Cameron, has announced details of the Immigration Bill, which proposes...
Criminal law: Victims of disability hate crime still being 'failed'
A report has found that victims of disability hate crime are still being let down by the criminal justice system despite changes ordered by a previous inquiry, the BBC reports. A combined report of HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), HM...
International: Greece drops potential legal action over the Parthenon Marbles
New Greek culture minister, Nikos Xydakis, has announced Greece will be pursuing the return of the Parthenon Marbles through diplomatic channels rather than international courts. Speaking to the Greek TV network, Mega TV, Xydakis said: "The road to reclaiming the...
Law and government: Prince Charles' "black spider" memos show evidence of lobbying
The collection of letters from Prince Charles sent to senior ministers, known as the "black spider" letters, has shown the Prince lobbying the government despite the monarchy's position of being politically neutral. The letters have come to light after Guardian...
International: Banks receive record fine over foreign exchange rigging
The US Department of Justice and other regulators have imposed a record $5.7bn (£3.7bn) fine on major banks over the rigging of foreign exchange markets. The major banks, including Barclays and the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), have been heavily...
Criminal law: Burglars using 'quadcopter' drones to identify vulnerable targets
Suffolk Constabulary has revealed that burglars are using 'quadcopter' drones to scope out residential properties with weak security, The Telegraph reports. Sussex police has warned that thieves are operating off-the-shelf miniature helicopters to conduct surveillance on homes susceptible to burglary....
Discrimination: Christian bakery's refusal to make pro-gay marriage cake ruled as discriminatory
A Northern Ireland court has ruled that a Christian-owned bakery discriminated against a gay customer when it refused to make a cake carrying a pro-gay marriage slogan, the Evening Standard reports. A judge in Northern Ireland has decided that a...
Europe: Prime Minister to publish EU Referendum Bill day after Queen's Speech
The Prime Minister, David Cameron, has announced that he will present the European Union Referendum Bill the day after the Queen's speech, The Guardian reports. The Prime Minister, David Cameron, says he has put the European Union Referendum Bill at...
Whether you are already involved in a lawsuit, or just considering getting help with a legal issue, you may have questions about working with a solicitor. Click through to find practical tips on choosing, meeting with, and hiring a solicitor - including information on fee agreements and expenses.see our hiring a solicitor guide
If you download a song, film, game or software from a file-sharing website or another website (such as a page on a social-networking site) where it's made available, and you do not pay for the item or otherwise obtain it under licence from the copyright holder, then you are infringing someone's copyright.