The CNC Council has issued a Resolution levying a €400,000 fine on the Regulatory Board for “Jerez-Xérès- Sherry” and “Manzanilla Sanlúcar de Barrameda” wines for approving and applying various arrangements based on the historical sales volumes of each wine seller in the designations of origin that restrict competition between wine sellers and limit their freedom of trade.
The Resolution resolved the formal proceedings brought on 11 January 2008 as a result of the complaint brought against the Regulatory Board by the wine seller Criadores, Almacenistas y Distribuidores de Vinos de Jerez (CAYDSA), which was later joined by the complaint filed by Complejo Bodeguero Bellavista, SL and Zoilo Ruiz Mateos, SL.
The CNC Council believes that the Jerez Wines Regulatory Board has been shown to have adopted those arrangements to implement a stabiliser mechanism in the sector based on sales quotas not based on product quality and identity and hence lacking in the necessary legal justification.
The arrangements have been declared anti-competitive because they are based on the historical sales levels of each distributor of this designation of origin, and thus constrain competition and restrict their freedom of trade.
The Regulatory Board has thus engaged in an anticompetitive conduct prohibited by article 1 of Spanish antitrust law (Defence of Competition Act 16/1989 and Competition Act 15/2007), and by article 81 of the Treaty establishing the European Community, given that a very large portion of Jerez wines are distributed in European Union countries, where trade would be presumably affected by the arrangements that were investigated in the complaint, according to the CNC Council.
Given the gravity of the violation, involving an agreement between competitors with the aim of restricting competition between distributors and sellers of wines of this designation of origin, the CNC Council has decided to levy a €400,000 fine on the Regulatory Board of the “Jerez-Xérès-Sherry” and “Manzanilla Sanlúcar de Barrameda” designations of origin.
On 15 July 2008 the CNC Council had already ordered that interim measures be taken against the Regulatory Board’s sales quota arrangements for the 2007/2008 marketing campaign. In any event, in its resolution the CNC Council instructs the “Jerez-Xérès-Sherry” and “Manzanilla Sanlúcar de Barrameda” designations of origin Regulatory Board to henceforth abstain from arranging and applying such agreements