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Guidelines on the application of Union competition law to collective agreements regarding the working conditions of solo self-employed persons 2022/C 374/02

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The European Commission adopted on 29 September 2022 its Guidelines on the application of EU competition law to collective agreements regarding the working conditions of solo self-employed people.

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 clarify when certain self-employed people can get together to negotiate collectively better working conditions without breaching EU competition rules.

More specifically, the Guidelines clarify that:

● Competition law does not apply to solo self-employed people that are in a situation comparable to workers. These include solo self-employed people who: (i) provide services exclusively or predominantly to one undertaking; (ii) work side-by-side with workers; and (iii) provide services to or through a digital labour platform.

● The Commission will not enforce EU competition rules against collective agreements made by solo self-employed people who are in a weak negotiating position. This is for instance, when solo self-employed people face an imbalance in bargaining power due to negotiations with economically stronger companies or when they bargain collectively pursuant to national or EU legislation.

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