Businesses in Europe will have more opportunities for collaborations for the realization of sustainability objectives if the European Commission’s proposal for new guidelines is adopted. The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) supports this proposal. It also fits in with ACM’s own Guidelines regarding sustainability agreements, which were drawn up over a year ago. ACM does have a few suggestions for clarification and additions, which would give room to even more sustainability-related collaborative initiatives.
What is this proposal about?
The Commission’s proposal shows that many forms of collaborations between businesses for the realization of sustainability objectives are completely allowed. Competition rules do not form any barrier to them. That clarification is critical for taking away the fear among businesses that they violate the rules by collaborating. On the basis of the Commission’s proposal, all of the collaboration plans that businesses have submitted to ACM are allowed.
ACM does have a few suggestions for clarification and additions to the Commission’s proposal. For example, ACM believes that arrangements between businesses for ensuring that they and their suppliers comply with national or international statutory requirements should fall outside the scope of competition rules. Those types of collective agreements can be useful, for example, if, in certain countries, enforcement of those requirements is not entirely possible or not properly organized. This may concern, for example, social rights, such as the ban on child labor, or the protection of the environment and nature. Competition rules are not meant to protect competition between businesses that directly or indirectly violate the law. ACM is also pleased with the European Commission’s plans to take much more into consideration the benefits of sustainability agreements to society as a whole. However, ACM believes the Commission can be even more generous if businesses say they need such generosity for their plans.
ACM and sustainability
In various areas, ACM helps create a sustainable economy because that fits in with its mission of ensuring that markets work well for people and businesses. ACM offers certainty to the question in what situations competitors are allowed to work together in order to realize sustainability objectives. In addition, ACM is closely involved in the transition towards sustainable energy, for example, by giving system operators permission to experiment with alternative energy sources. Also, ACM warns businesses if they make false sustainability claims about their products, and takes action against businesses that hinder the transition towards a more sustainable economy by making agreements or acquisitions.