Is a trade union an undertaking under EU competition law?

Shaun Bradshaw

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EU competition law applies to undertakings. The status of a trade union under EU competition law is a contentious issue. In this paper, I argue that trade unions, contrary to existing Court of Justice of the European Union jurisprudence, can be classified as “undertakings” when engaged in collective bargaining. Current case law argues that trade unions act as their members’ agent when engaged in collective bargaining. As workers are not undertakings under EU competition law, trade unions are not either. This paper argues primarily that a trade union is an undertaking and that Court’s approach on the agent-principal question is wrong. It further argues that a trade union is an undertaking when engaged in collective bargaining as they provide, and/or offer their services on a given market.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)320-340
Number of pages21
JournalEuropean Competition Journal
Issue number2-3
Early online date3 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • competition law
  • trade unions
  • undertakings
  • Article 101
  • collective bargaining

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