ZWeR 2022, 468

RWS Verlag Kommunikationsforum GmbH & Co. KG, Köln RWS Verlag Kommunikationsforum GmbH & Co. KG, Köln 2199-1723 Zeitschrift für Wettbewerbsrecht ZWeR 2022 AufsätzeJonas von Kalben*

Europe’s Green Ambition: New Guidelines of the European Commission on the Application of Art. 101 TFEU to Sustainability Agreements – A Critical Account

On 1. March 2022 the European Commission (Commission) published a draft of new Horizontal Guidelines (DHG 2022) that dedicate a separate chapter to provide guidance on the application of Art. 101 TFEU to Sustainability Agreements. A primary objective of the Commission is to facilitate cooperation of undertakings that contributes to the ‘green transition’. The DHG 2022 clarify that competition and sustainability are complementary objectives and – contrary to claims of some commentators – reject more general restrictions of Art. 101(1) TFEU. Nevertheless, the new guidelines provide useful guidance on (soft) safe harbours for certain types of Sustainability Agreements. At the same time, the Commission advocates a broad reading of Art. 101(3) TFEU that would allow to credit a wide range of individual but also collective sustainability benefits. A closer look reveals that the suggested approach is difficult to reconcile with the case law of the European Courts. Moreover, the Commission’s interpretation of the legal exemption raises fundamental questions of the legitimacy of private companies to take normative decisions with far reaching distributive effects.


  • I. Introduction
  • II. Definitions and General Principles
    • 1. Definitions
    • 2. General Principles
      • 2.1 No application of Wouters and Meca-Medina to Sustainability Agreements
      • 2.2 No application of the ‘ancillary restraints doctrine’ to Sustainability Agreements
      • 2.3 Sustainability Agreements as a tool to address market failures
  • III. Assessment of Sustainability Agreements under Art. 101(1) TFEU
    • 1. Sustainability Agreements that do not raise competition concerns (‘safe harbours’)
    • 2. Sustainability standardisation agreements (‘soft safe harbour’)
    • 3. Delineating Infringements ‘by object’ from infringements ‘by effect’
  • IV. Assessment of Sustainability Agreements under Art. 101(3) TFEU
    • 1. Sustainability benefits as efficiency gains
    • 2. Indispensability of Sustainability Agreements
    • 3. Pass on to consumers
      • 3.1 Individual (use value and non-use value) benefits
      • 3.2 Collective benefits
        • 3.2.1 ‘Analogy’ to established case law?
        • 3.2.2 Discussion
    • 4. No elimination of competition
  • V. Conclusion
Dr. iur., LL.M. (EUI), postdoctoral researcher at the chair for Private Law, European Economic Law, Competition Law and Law and Economics of Prof. Heike Schweitzer, LL.M. (Yale) at the Humboldt University in Berlin

Der Inhalt dieses Beitrags ist nicht frei verfügbar.

Für Abonnenten ist der Zugang zu Aufsätzen und Rechtsprechung frei.

Sollten Sie über kein Abonnement verfügen, können Sie den gewünschten Beitrag trotzdem kostenpflichtig erwerben:

Erwerben Sie den gewünschten Beitrag kostenpflichtig per Rechnung.

PayPal Logo

Erwerben Sie den gewünschten Beitrag kostenpflichtig mit PayPal.


RWS Verlag Kommunikationsforum GmbH & Co. KG

Aachener Straße 222

50931 Köln


RWS Verlag Kommunikationsforum GmbH & Co. KG

Postfach 27 01 25

50508 Köln


T (0221) 400 88-99

F (0221) 400 88-77

© 2024 RWS Verlag Kommunikationsforum GmbH & Co. KG

Erweiterte Suche