On 25 October 2014, the Austrian Federal Competition Authority (BWB) published a short guidance paper ("Standpunkt") on competition issues arising in the area of funeral services.
Formerly heavily regulated with legal monopolies on most of the cemeteries in Austria, the funeral services business has been liberalised since 2002. Nevertheless the situation has been slow in adapting to the new legal environment. Over the past years the competition authority has received a number of complaints regarding incumbents impeding competitors from entering the local markets.
The BWB has therefore developed a general framework for analysis and enforcement which it has consistently applied over the last three years.
The guidance paper summarizes the BWB's experience and provides guidance for the stakeholders (cemetery administrators, funeral service providers, communities, etc.). It focuses on the issues concerning essential facilities and provides recommendations for securing market access.
The main issues addressed are: separation of cemetery administration from the funeral services business; setting up clear and transparent rules for the use of essential facilities (avoiding excessive bureaucracy); and properly informing clients.