The development and development of technical standards for government enforcement is not a matter of these guidelines. The European standards bodies recognised by the European Parliament and Council Directive 98/34/EC of 22 June 1998 which provide for a procedure for the provision of information in the area of technical standards and regulations and rules relating to the services of the information society (97), are subject to competition law to the extent that they can be considered as companies or business associations within the meaning of Articles 101 and 102 (98). Standards for the provision of professional services, such as .B admission to a professional profession, are not covered by these guidelines. Whether standardization agreements can have restrictive effects on competition may depend on the ability of members of a standards body to develop alternative standards or products that do not meet the agreed standard (118). For example, where the standardization agreement requires members to manufacture only products in accordance with the standard, the risk of likely negative effects on competition increases significantly and could, in certain circumstances, lead to a restriction of competition (119). Similarly, standards that cover only minor aspects or parts of the finished product are less likely to pose competition problems than broader standards. The Commission`s guidelines for the application of Article 81, paragraph 3, of the Treaty (18) (`general guidelines`) contain general guidelines for the interpretation of Article 101. Therefore, these guidelines must be read in conjunction with the general guidelines. If participation in standardization is full and transparent and the procedure for adopting the standard in question is transparent, standardization agreements that do not contain a compliance obligation (111) and allow access to the standard on fair, proportionate and non-discriminatory conditions do not, as a general rule, limit competition within the meaning of Section 101, paragraph 1.
Market power is a matter of degree. The degree of market power required to find an infringement under section 101, paragraph 1, in the case of restrictive agreements is less than the level of market power required to find a dominant position under section 102, where a significant degree of market power is required. Production agreements can also lead to coordination of the competitive behaviour of the parties as suppliers, resulting in higher prices or reduced production, product quality, product diversity or innovation, i.e. a collusive result. This can be done provided that the parties have market power and the existence of market characteristics that promote such coordination, particularly when the production agreement increases the cohabitation of the costs borne by the parties (i.e. the share of variable costs that are common to the parties), to a extent that allows them to obtain a collusive result, or where the agreement involves an exchange of economically sensitive information that could lead to a collusive result.