In recent years, competition authorities across the EU have been increasingly confronted with sustainability. A policy discussion has developed about what role sustainability concerns should have in competition law, and especially about whether sustainability agreements should receive a more lenient treatment than other types of agreements. So far, EU competition authorities have mostly dealt with sustainability agreements through non-binding instruments, such as informal assessments. The informal character of a competition law assessment has important consequences in terms of procedural flexibility, bindingness, and amenability to challenge in front of a court. These features make informal assessments a useful instrument to address urgent or politically sensitive issues, such as sustainability. At the same time, the use of informal assessments has an impact on the development of EU competition law. The present contribution, which forms part of Teresa Oriani's PhD thesis in the making, zooms in on informal assessments of sustainability agreements by the Dutch ACM and the German Bundeskartellamt. Through the experience of these two competition authorities, the contribution explores the role of informal assessments in the context of the competition-sustainability interface and the consequences of their use.
The EUI Competition Law Working Group is a forum where EUI members, external researchers, and practitioners working on antitrust law and economics discuss their work and interact with other scholars. All interested fellows, PhD researchers, professors and visiting academics are invited to participate.