The European Commission has adopted today its Guidelines on the application of EU competition law to collective agreements (‘Guidelines’) regarding the working conditions of solo self-employed people. The Guidelines clarify when certain self-employed people can get together to negotiate collectively better working conditions without breaching EU competition rules.
Executive Vice-President for a Europe Fit for the Digital Age and Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager, said “Solo self-employed people in the digital economy and beyond may not be able to individually negotiate good working terms and therefore may face difficult working conditions. Getting together to collectively negotiate can be a powerful tool to improve such conditions. The new Guidelines aim to provide legal certainty to the solo self-employed people by clarifying when competition law does not stand in the way of their efforts to negotiate collectively for a better deal.”
The Guidelines on collective agreements
Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (‘TFEU’) prohibits agreements between undertakings that restrict competition. While collective agreements between employer and workers are not subject to EU competition rules, self-employed people are considered “undertakings” and thus risk infringing competition rules when negotiating collectively on their fees or other trading conditions. As a result, self-employed people are often uncertain whether they can collectively negotiate their working conditions.
The Guidelines apply to solo self-employed people who work completely on their own and do not employ others.
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