Important drivers of the Portuguese economy, business associations play a fundamental role in representing, defending, promoting, and supporting companies.
Business associations are usually representative of a particular sector of activity or a geographical area, working to defend the common interests of companies.
However, as they gather under their jurisdiction a significant part of the competitors in a given sector, they are particularly vulnerable to violations of competition rules. Business associations cannot interfere with the commercial autonomy of their members. And by promoting the standardisation of corporate behaviour, the chances of violation of Competition Law increase.
Decisions by business associations and the Competition Law
What decisions by business associations can harm competition? All those that constitute institutionalised forms of cooperation between members to condition their commercial behaviour.
These decisions include setting prices, dividing markets, or defining relevant commercial conditions. Business associations must know that these practices are contrary to the Competition Law and that they end up distorting their mission, in addition to compromising market efficiency, the autonomy of economic agents, and the free play of competition.
As it is essential to alert business associations — and their respective directors, supervisory bodies, and members — to possible law infractions, the Competition Authority created the Guide for Business Associations. This is a document that aims to inform business associations and members about the decisions or behaviours to avoid, but also to champion the benefits of competition.