Definition of Dominance 20. According to settled case law, dominance is a position of economic strength enjoyed by an undertaking which enables it to prevent effective competition being maintained on the relevant market by affording it the power to behave to an appreciable extent independently of its competitors, its customers and ultimately of the consumers.21 Dominance can exist on the part of
one undertaking (single dominance) or two or more undertakings (collective dominance).22 In the case of collective dominance the undertakings concerned must, from an economic point of view,
present themselves or act together on a particular market as a collective entity.23
Three Elements 21. This definition of dominance consists of three elements, two of which are closely linked: (a) there must be a position of economic strength on a market which (b) enables the undertaking(s) in question to prevent effective competition being maintained on that market by
affording it the power to behave independently to an appreciable extent.
Dominance must relate to a market
The first element implies that dominance exists in relation to a market. It cannot exist
in the abstract.24 It also implies that an undertaking either on its own or together with other undertakings must hold a leading position on that market compared to its rivals.
Ability to exclude and 3. Independence from other players – market power
The second and third elements concern the link between the position of economic
strength held by the undertaking concerned and the competitive process, i.e. the way in which the undertaking and other players act and inter-act on the market. Dominance is the ability to prevent effective competition being maintained on the market and to act to an appreciable extent independently of other players. The notion of independence, which is the special feature of dominance25, is related to the level of competitive constraint facing the undertaking(s) in
23 24 25
See Case 27/76 United Brands, cited in footnote 5, paragraph 65, and Case 85/76, Hoffmann-La Roche, cited in footnote 4, paragraph 38. See Joined Cases C-395/96 P and C-396/96 P Compagnie maritime belge transports, cited in footnote 4, paragraph 36. Idem. See paragraph 11 above. See Case 85/76 Hoffmann-La Roche cited in footnote 5, paragraphs 42-48.