Germany To Strengthen Antitrust Laws After Gas Price Profits Soar

The German government is planning to expand the powers of its antitrust authorities. The move comes after recent measures to compensate for rising gasoline prices have turned into a profit windfall for oil companies.

German Economy Minister Robert Habeck has moved to empower Germany’s antitrust authorities to take away disproportionate profits from companies that agree on prices across markets.

The plans, unveiled on the ministry website on Sunday, include measures making it easier to both break up cartel-like structures, to skim off excess profits that have been made through cartels, and make investigations more wide-ranging.

The move follows mounting criticism of the government’s attempts to reduce gasoline prices for German motorists. Gas prices in Germany, like everywhere else, have been rising significantly since the start of Russia’s war on Ukraine, with all five major companies (Shell, BP-Aral, Esso, Jet, and Total) raising them in parallel with one another. The German government slashed taxes on gasoline and diesel for three months as of June 1, but analyses — and plenty of anecdotal evidence on social media — suggest that prices haven’t really been sinking.

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