On 19 October 2016, the Italian Competition Authority (the "ICA") opened an in-depth investigation against the Italian Consortium named Consorzio di difesa della produzione agricola di Trento, ("CODIPRA"), which promotes initiatives aimed to protect Italian agricultural businesses from the damages caused by adverse weather conditions.
In particular, the ICA stated that CODIPRA, which enjoys a dominant position on the market of the brokerage of State contributions, would use this almost monopolistic power to exclude its only competitor Coop Di Italia ("Coop"), an Italian cooperative enterprise from the market.
The ICA found that CODIPRA would be boycotting Coop's brokerage activities, by applying discounts to the clients interested in Coop's commercial proposals which were, de facto not replicable by the mentioned competitor.
The ICA alleged that the conduct of CODIPRA would amount to an abuse of dominance in breach of Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (the "TFEU").
The alleged breach has yet to be proven at this stage and the investigation continues. However, the ICA has opined that such conduct, if proven, would amount to an infringement of Article 102 of the TFEU on the grounds that: (i) it would adversely affect trade within the EU; and (ii) CODIPRA has achieved a dominant position on the relevant market thanks to favorable law provisions.