Sustainability considerations meanwhile play an important role with respect to antitrust issues. Investments in a more sustainable economy can be significant. Companies are therefore often faced with the question of whether to undertake these investments on their own or to cooperate with other companies. Such cooperations are subject to antitrust law.
Forms of cooperation can include, for example, the setting of minimum standards for products, the joint certification of suppliers or the development of more sustainable technologies. They generally receive a favourable assessment from the cartel authorities, but are not permissible per se. The efficiencies created by the cooperation must outweigh any possible restrictive effects on competition. Corresponding guidelines have been announced by the European Commission, but the authorities have so far decided on a case-by-case basis. Companies are explicitly invited by the cartel authorities to present their intended cooperations and to coordinate them with the authorities.
Our lawyers assist companies in connection with the evaluation and structuring of cooperations with a view to sustainability. If necessary, we coordinate intended cooperations with the antitrust authorities on behalf of our clients. Where international projects are concerned, we can call on our proven and expanded worldwide network of partner law firms.
An additional focus is advising companies on antitrust compliance in the sustainability sector. For, just as the cartel authorities generally take a positive view of cooperations between companies that promote sustainability objectives, they also take decisive action against agreements that restrict a more sustainable development. For example, the European Commission explicitly referred to the objectives of the European Green Deal when it issued a considerable fine recently for a restriction of technology competition. We help companies avoid risks in this area.
In addition, we follow the regulatory developments in the area of antitrust law and sustainability considerations and play an active role in shaping these developments by contributing to consultation processes. As a result, we are always abreast of developments and can bring this expertise to bear when advising our clients.