Friday, January 15, 2021
Competition policy and the Green Deal
Thank you to all who responded to our call for contributions on questions about how competition rules and sustainability policies work together. The call for contributions closed on 20 November 2020, and DG Competition received around 200 contributions, which are now being analysed.
The contributions will be published at the time of the conference organised by DG Competition, to be hosted by Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager on 4 February 2021. This conference will bring together the different perspectives on this important topic. The programme is here.
Registration for the conference is now open, through the dedicated conference platform.
This follows the announcement in a speech on 22 September 2020, at an event hosted by MEP Stephanie Yon-Courtin, by Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, of her intention to launch a European debate on how EU competition policy can best support the Green Deal.
As EVP Vestager said, competition policy cannot replace environmental laws or green investment. The question is rather if we can do more, to apply our rules in ways that better support the Green Deal.
We are looking for input from everyone with a stake in this issue – including from industry, from environmental groups, consumer organisations, as well as competition experts.
Call for contributions
The European Green Deal aims to transform the EU into a fair and prosperous society, with a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy. The goal is for Europe to be the first climate neutral continent by 2050, where economic growth is decoupled from resource use. The coronavirus pandemic makes those ambitions even more relevant. The European Commission has put forward a major recovery plan for Europe to help repair the economic and social damage brought by the pandemic and to kick-start the European recovery in line with the twin green and digital transition goals.
As Executive Vice President Vestager has underlined: “To succeed, everyone in Europe will have to play their part – every individual, every public authority. And that includes competition enforcers.”
The goal of EU competition rules is to promote and protect effective competition in markets, delivering efficient outcomes to the benefit of consumers. Competitive markets encourage firms to produce at the lowest cost, to invest efficiently and to innovate and adopt more energy-efficient technologies. Such competitive pressure is a powerful incentive to use our planet’s scarce resources efficiently, and it complements environmental and climate policies and regulation aimed at internalising environmental costs. By helping to achieve efficient and competitive market outcomes, competition policy hence contributes by itself to the effectiveness of green policies. Competition policy is not in the lead when it comes to fighting climate change and protecting the environment. There are better, much more effective ways, such as regulation and taxation. Competition policy, however, can complement regulation and the question is how it could do that most effectively. The Commission is responsible for the enforcement of competition rules based on its competences under the Treaty and existing EU secondary legislation, under the close supervision of the EU Courts. This means that, short of any changes in the existing legal framework, competition policy’s contribution to the Green Deal can only take place within these clearly-defined boundaries.
Competition policy contributing to the European Green Deal is about our future – in the field of competition and on this planet. This is why we believe that future competition experts and professionals must be part of it. If you are interested in competition policy and are currently at university, you are invited to take on the Student Challenge and give yourself a chance to see your contributions published by DG Competition in a special Brief. This is how. Watch the conference webstream (link available soon) on or after 4 February 2021. Choose the panel discussion you liked best; picture yourself among its speakers; and tell us what you would have talked about. You have until 18 February to send your abstracts – no more than 250 words – to COMP-GREEN-DEAL@ec.europa.eu. We will shortlist the best submissions and the public will vote for the final winners. Read the complete Student Challenge rules . Good luck to all.
Contact usYou can contact us by e-mail to COMP-GREEN-DEAL@ec.europa.eu