Competitor cooperation in times of crisis – A chance to reshape the rules?

Companies generally have to self-assess their agreements for compliance with competition law. But to tackle the health crisis some businesses have worked together to ensure uninterrupted supply of essentials – often supported by guidance from competition authorities.

Now, businesses are looking at ways to cooperate to ease recovery from the crisis. As declining markets and sudden, non-transitory shocks tend to trigger unlawful collaboration between competitors, they need to remember that competition laws continue to apply.

But the health crisis has highlighted the need to give clearer guidance on competitor collaboration, especially to foster meaningful progress on both sustainability and digital competition.

“Authorities have shown welcome flexibility and speed to allow temporary and necessary business cooperation in response to the pandemic. As we head into the recovery and competition authorities review their rules, now is a good time for companies to continue the dialogue with the competition authorities on long-term safe harbour rules for positive cooperation.”

Daniela Seeliger

Partner, Düsseldorf
Daniela Seeliger
Thomas Elkins

“Despite competition law’s inherent flexibility, the pandemic spotlighted the existing need for explicit guidance on two areas of collaboration: to achieve important sustainability goals and to enable data-sharing between tech companies to enhance digital competition. We expect to see accelerated progress in these areas, especially in the EU.”

Thomas Elkins

Partner, Paris
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