Europe vetos Cataluña’s protective legislation


IN a move that reflects the concerns of small traders in the Alicante area with regard to the proposed Ikea development, the EU’s Court of Justice has blocked an attempt by the Regional Government in Cataluña to protect small retailers against competition from larger rivals.

In Cataluña it was the regional government itself that tried to introduce legislation to protect smaller businesses, but this was deemed illegal by European legislators as being anti- competitive.


The restrictions, some of which are part of Spanish law and others written into Catalan legislation, aim to prevent large, multinational retailers setting up in areas where small, private retailers in the same market already function.

The European Commission brought an action against Spain, saying it was unlawful to confine where new commercial addresses chose to establish their premises and the EU’s Court of Justice upheld the decision.

“A member state may not make the opening of a large retail establishment conditional upon economic considerations such as its impact on the existing retail business commerce, or the market share of the undertaking concerned,” the court said in its ruling.

“Such considerations cannot justify a restriction on the freedom of establishment.”

Catalunya’s restrictions included limits on new permits which stipulated that they might only be issued when the police sources were satisfied that proposed new commercial addresses, such as hypermarkets, would not have an impact on small traders.

Alicante is not adopting the same stance as that attempted by its Cataluñan cousin.

By Paul Deed


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