Collectif ou collusif ?. A propos de l'application du droit des ententes aux certifications officielles de qualité
In several agrifood sectors in Europe, firms and producers’ organizations involved in quality labelling based on official certification have been repeatedly criticized or even condemned by antitrust authorities for anti-competitive practices. This raises the question of the compatibility between quality policy for agrifood products as developed in Europe and antitrust. Should we consider that the only or main aim of the collective organizations managing these public labels is to mitigate actual and/or potential competition ? This article sheds some lights on this issue through a detailed analysis of a particular public label in France (« red label») largely used in poultry industry. We criticize the economic analysis made by the antitrust authorities and suggest an alternative explanation. In particular, we argue that, individual firms involved in these collective systems try to organize themselves in order to mitigate the costs related to the management of quality all along the vertical chain. We also show that the market governance is unable to promote and enforce products’ quality and the credibility of the label. The main reason is that this governance structure is unable to mitigate the contractual hazards related to collective and public labelling. We conclude by suggesting that the analysis developed by the antitrust authorities is misleading, generates a wrong assessment of the rationale behind the collective organization governing public labels and, more importantly, may reduce the incentives of private agents to invest in collective labelling.
Volume (Year): t. XIX, 2 (2005)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
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