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The EU essential facilities doctrine. Research Papers in Law, 6/2006

Hatzopoulos, Vassilis (2006) The EU essential facilities doctrine. Research Papers in Law, 6/2006. UNSPECIFIED.

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    Introduction. The essential facilities doctrine may be seen as the ‘extra weight’ which is put onto the balance, in order to give precedence to the maintenance of competition over the complete contractual freedom of undertakings controlling an important and unique facility. The main purpose of the doctrine is to impose upon such ‘dominant’ undertakings the duty to negotiate and/or give access to the facility, against a reasonable fee, to other undertakings, which cannot pursue their own activity (and therefore will perish) without access to such a facility. This very simple description of the content of the doctrine underlines its limitations: through the imposition of a duty to negotiate or contractual obligations, the rule tends to compensate for the weaknesses of the competitive structure of a market, which are due to the existence of some essential facility. In other words, the doctrine does not by itself provide a definitive solution to the lack of competition, but tends to contractually maintain or even create some competition.1 The doctrine of essential facilities originates in the US antitrust case law of the Circuit and District Courts, but has never been officially acknowledged by the Supreme Court. It has been further developed and hotly debated by scholars in the US, both from a legal and from an economic viewpoint. In the EU, the essential facilities doctrine was openly introduced by the Commission during the early 1990s, but has received only limited and indirect support by the Court of First Instance (the CFI) and the European Court of Justice (the ECJ). It also indirectly inspired the legislation concerning the deregulation of traditional ‘natural’ monopolies. The judicial origin of the doctrine, combined with the hesitant application by the appeal courts, both in the US and the EU, cast uncertainty not only on the precise scope of the doctrine, but also on the issue of its very existence. These questions receive a particular light within the EU context, where the doctrine is called upon to play a different role from its US counterpart. In order to address the above issues, we will first pretend that an EU essential facility doctrine does indeed exist and we shall try to identify the scope and content thereof, through its main applications (Section 1). Subsequently, we will try to answer the question whether such a doctrine should exist at all in the EU (Section 2).

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    Item Type: Other
    Subjects for non-EU documents: EU policies and themes > Policies & related activities > competition policy
    EU policies and themes > Policies & related activities > law & legal affairs-general (includes international law)
    EU policies and themes > External relations > EU-US
    Subjects for EU documents: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Series and Periodicals: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Annual Reports: UNSPECIFIED
    Series: Series > College of Europe (Brugge) > Research Papers in Law
    Depositing User: Phil Wilkin
    Official EU Document: No
    Language: English
    Date Deposited: 30 Sep 2013 09:41
    Number of Pages: 48
    Last Modified: 30 Sep 2013 09:41

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