Competition law and the social market economy goal of the EU

Václav Šmejkal

Abstract


The present study asks whether the enforcement of competition protection, according to Art. 101, 102 and 106 TFEU, causes conflict with measures belonging to the EU׳s social market economy model. Integration of the social market economy objective into the EU׳s goals was newly stated in Article 3 (3) TFEU and it is therefore of interest to find whether it has have so far any impact on the traditional EU׳s competition law approach towards clashes between social protection measures and free competition imperatives. The study reviews first the new wording of social provisions of the EU Treaties, then it analysis the relationship between the social market economy model and the market competition in general. A more detailed attention is then dedicated to the pre-Lisbon approach of the EU Court of Justice towards agreements between social partners and to the privileged rights of organisations providing social security services. In its final part, the study examines whether this earlier established approach corresponds to the current post-Lisbon case law of the Court. The conclusion is that even though the goal of a social market economy has been so far never mentioned by the Court and its pre-Lisbon case law precedents have not been overruled, the current standard of application of EU competition rules is largely responsive towards social schemes established at the national level.

Keywords


European Union; Competition law; Social market economy; Court of Justice of the EU; Lisbon Treaty.

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