Sustainability has forced its way center-stage in the world of antitrust, and not before time. It has for a while been a familiar topic in academic circles, but agencies and practitioners are now increasingly alive to the pressing need to make antitrust part of the solution and not part of the problem. What is that problem? That familiar antitrust dogmas are seen as impeding the joint industry responses needed to rise to the pressing issues of the day.
Opinions differ on the means to that end. Can consumer welfare accommodate the challenge? Do we need a different welfare standard? Or do we in Europe simply oust antitrust and give priority to other Treaty goals? Is regulation the answer? This CPI collection gives voice to a range of views and I commend it to you.
And I also commend to you the draft sustainability guidelines issued by the Dutch competition agency (ACM), who show themselves to be leaders in this field. Their consultation exercise came too late for our authors to reflect on the proposal, but we have been fortunate to secure a last-minute interview with the ACM’s chairman, Martijn Snoep, which you can read in this collection. The ACM has offered forthright guidance and shone a light where the European Commission, and others, should follow.
Finally, a disclosure: my firm is pro bono counsel to Fair Trade, for whom I took on the mandate to get this topic into the antitrust mainstream. I am glad to be able to include a paper by Dario Soto Abril, CEO of Fair Trade International. As for my mandate, this collection is a further step in the right direction. But we will not declare “job done” until advocacy has become published guidance.
Dechert LLP, Brussels