Sustainability and EU competition law
Produced in partnership with David Little, Pierre Bichet and Clément Pradille from Latham & Watkins
Sustainability and EU competition law

The following Competition practice note produced in partnership with David Little, Pierre Bichet and Clément Pradille from Latham & Watkins provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Sustainability and EU competition law
  • The discussion to date–four key themes
  • Is there a legal basis for using competition law to promote environmentally sustainable business practices?
  • Is sustainability primarily a concern for the rules on horizontal agreements?
  • Does Article 101 TFEU enable the promotion of environmentally sustainable business practices and if not, what reforms would be needed to permit this?
  • Consumer welfare, dynamic effects, and the economic underpinning for reform
  • The authorities’ response and what’s next in Europe
  • Conclusion

Sustainability and EU competition law

‘All of Europe’s policies — including competition policy — will have their role to play in helping [Europe’s move towards sustainability][…]to succeed, everyone in Europe will have to play their part — every individual, every business, every public authority. And that includes competition enforcers’

Margrethe Vestager

The European Commission (Commission) has launched an ambitious roadmap – the European Green Deal – intended to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent. While the Commission views EU competition law as part of the solution, it has struck a cautious note. Launching a recent call for contributions on competition policy, the Commission stated that: ‘Competition policy is not in the lead when it comes to fighting climate change and protecting the environment. There are better, much more effective ways, such as regulation and taxation.’

Not all share this view, however. Other proponents argue that competition law should be in the vanguard. This article summarises the ongoing debate around the use of competition law to promote sustainable business practices.

The discussion to date–four key themes

Despite the Commission’s caution, sections of the business community have advocated strongly in favour of competition law playing a greater role to facilitate collaboration on sustainability matters. 189 stakeholders contributed views on the Commission's Directorate General for Competition (DG COMP) call for contributions. Many of the submissions are rich

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