Brussels

Trade associations, lobbyists and competition law

Law & Economics Workshop organized by Concurrences Review in partnership with Baker McKenzie, Avisa, Compass Lexecon.

FIONA CARLIN

Fiona moderated the discussion and set the scene. When it comes to discussions about trade associations, Adam Smith’s old line that “people of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices” is often invoked. Yet, since 1776, the world has become a great deal more complex, which means that “people of the same trade” also meet together to discuss very legitimate complex business issues. And, even when discussions are not so legitimate, they no longer occur in smoke-filled rooms, but in online chat rooms or via social media, making compliance efforts incredibly challenging.

A major challenge for companies and associations is staying abreast of the competition risks linked to new technologies and new business practices. Some steps have been taken at national level. For example, in 2014 the Dutch Competition Authority issued guidance for the competitive assessment of agreements between competitors that promote environmental sustainability. This guidance is helpful, informing the industry that horizontal cooperation can be pro-competitive in certain circumstances.

Photos © Emilie Gomez

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Speakers