On 6 March 2012, the French Competition Authority (FCA), following raids conducted a year earlier by the consumer frauds authorities (DGCCRF), found that French endive producers had acted in concert to fix prices and fined them a total of 3.6 million euros. The FCA thus punished "a series of actions implemented by a dozen organizations of producers and seven trade associations as part of an overall plan to ensure minimum sales pricing for endives". This cartel, which included nearly all French endive producers, began in 1998 and lasted more than fourteen years.
The FCA’s decision was perceived as a severe measure intended to put an end to the agricultural sector’s exemption from competition law. However, two years later, pursuant to Article 42 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, the Paris Court of Appeal affirmed the supremacy of the aims of the EU common agricultural policy (CAP) over EU competition law.
By a decision of 15 May 2014, the Court of Appeal confirmed that there is indeed an agricultural exception, provided that the agricultural regulators did not actually fix prices. In this particular case, the Court found that the professional organisations did not exceed their missions as regulators with regard to production prices and the "adaptation [of the production] to the demand, notably as regards quantity and the quality".
In consequence, the Court of Appeal overturned all the provisions of the FCA’s decision and exonerated the endive producers from liability. The Court justified its decision by ruling that the practices alleged against the endive production regulators could not be characterized as a single, comprehensive and continuous plan to pursue a common anticompetitive objective in violation of EU law.
By its decision, it would seem that the Paris Court of Appeal wished to give an advantage to farmers and to relieve the major financial difficulties encountered by producers in a sector in decline.