Within the World Trade Organization, the EU is working with 16 trading partners to reach an agreement on environmental products. The agreement removes tariffs on eco-technology, including goods essential to climate change mitigation. Voluntary labelling can help consumers get more information about the sustainability of the products they buy. Transparent systems can help promote more sustainable trade. [1] The consultation will continue until October 1, 2020. The guidelines are intended to replace ACM`s existing sustainability guidelines. It is clear that the CMA is taking a progressive approach that will influence the wider debate within the EU and around the world on how competition law should apply to cooperation for sustainable development. [5] 4) Quantifying the benefits of sustainable development is not always necessary – A challenge that companies face in the past is that it can be difficult to quantify sustainability gains. The guidelines state that a qualitative justification is sufficient if: (a) the parties do not have a cumulative market share of more than 30% or b) it goes without saying that the benefits (more than) would compensate for the harm to competition. In the end, companies operating at the international level will (also) seek to take comfort in the fact that their cross-border sustainable development projects do not remain vulnerable to the challenges posed by the authorities in other jurisdictions, including at EU level.

Nevertheless, it appears that companies, professional organisations and stakeholders have a clear dynamic to initiate (informal) discussions with CMAs to examine the permissible design of sustainable development initiatives, whether they have a strictly Dutch scope or are broader. A favourable opinion from ACM can help convince authorities in other jurisdictions. Modern EU trade agreements require the EU and its partners to respect and implement the basic agreements of the International Labour Organization: EU trade agreements with the following countries contain rules on trade and sustainable development: but the risk of imposing competition may have prevented many agreements. Take, for example, the potential challenge of Brazilian competition against the long-standing moratorium on Amazon soybeans – an obligation for commercial companies not to buy soybeans from parts of the Amazon rainforest torn off after 2008. However, sustainable development initiatives that fall within the scope of the ban on cartels are permitted when they meet the four cumulative exemption criteria (Article 6, paragraph 3, and 101, paragraph 3, of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union). [3] In short, companies must demonstrate that sustainability gains outweigh all the damage to competition, that there are no less restrictive means, and that customers (or, in some cases, the company as a whole – see below) benefit sufficiently.

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Last Modified: December 20, 2020