Contents

ECJ: Italian regulation regarding minimum prices infringes European law

The European Court of Justice („ECJ“) decided on 4 September 2014 that the Italian regulation regarding the price of haulage services infringes European law.

The regulation prohibits companies to charge less than pre-determined minimum costs. These minimum costs are agreed on by haulage associations and associations of customers of transport services. In case no agreement is reached, a supervising body composed of representatives of the state and the above mentioned associations (“Osservatorio”) fixes the amount of the minimum costs.

In 2011 an Italian oil company, Anonima Petroli Italiana, brought an action before the Tribunale amministrative regionale per il Lazio pursuing the annulment of the minimum costs determined by the Osservatorio. Thus, the Italian Court referred to the ECJ to determine if this regulation is in accordance with European Law. 

The ECJ explains in its joined cases C-184/13 bis C-187/13, C-194/13, C-195/13 and C-208/13, Anonima Petroli Italiana SpA v Ministero della Infrastrutture e die Trasporti und Ministero dello Sviluppo Economico, that fixing of minimum costs constitutes an infringement of European competition law. Furthermore, companies are limited in their freedom to determine the price of haulage services and set lower tariffs than the fixed minimum costs due to this regulation. Thus the ECJ decided that this Italian regulation is capable of restricting European competition and is therefore not compatible with European law.   

Authors:

Dr. Christina Hummer
Ori Kahn