31 July 20234 minute read

Antitrust Matters – August 2023 – Competition and Sustainability

Competition and Sustainability – a comprehensive review of national and supra-national regulation

Since the launch of the European Green Deal in 2019, sustainability goals and competition policy have become increasingly intertwined.

The European Commission opened the debate and launched several consultations on the role that competition policy must play in supporting the EU’s goal of making Europe the first climate neutral continent by 2050. Competition based on the idea of a solo discipline (each company acting alone and in its own interest) is not a natural fit to the aim of jointly achieving agreed sustainability goals. But the discussions and consultations still led to the conclusion that competition law can mostly play a supportive role by allowing cooperation to these ends.

Ultimately, this has taken full shape in the promotion of sustainability via new tools, like the recast of the Commission Block Exemption Regulations on R&D and Specialization Agreements accompanied by the Commission’s Guidelines on horizontal cooperation agreements. Some national competition authorities have not been idle in this area and have even taken a very progressive approach in this regard. It’s probably even fair to recognise a jurisdictional competition on the best methodology to align competition law and sustainability targets.

This guide provides an overview of recent developments in the EU and in some Member States regarding the implementation of sustainability aspects into competition law.

Besides legislative developments, we also look at recent decisional practice and summarise key takeaways.

Read more about our ESG practice here.