11 - The relevance of State action to Articles 101 and 102 TFEU  pp. 343-378

The relevance of State action to Articles 101 and 102 TFEU

By Suzanne Kingston

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While, as discussed in Chapter 2, private actors play an increasingly significant role in environmental policy and protection, Member States' role in reinforcing this role remains significant. Member States may, for example, seek to reinforce the effectiveness of voluntary environmental agreements by recognising them in law; or grant special rights to certain undertakings to perform environmental services that would not otherwise be profitable. This chapter deals with EU competition law's approach to these Member State efforts.

State action as a defence for undertakings

Where undertakings are required by national legislation to act in an anti-competitive manner, such undertakings may rely on their national law obligations as a defence to proceedings for breach of Articles 101 or 102 TFEU. This principle was laid down most famously in Ladbroke Racing, where the ECJ held that:

Articles [101 and 102] apply only to anti-competitive conduct engaged in by undertakings on their own initiative . . . If anti-competitive conduct is required of undertakings by national legislation or if the latter creates a legal framework which itself eliminates the possibility of competitive activity on their part, Articles [101 and 102] do not apply. In such a situation, the restriction of competition is not attributable, as those provisions implicitly require, to the autonomous conduct of the undertakings.

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