According to the General Manager of the Trade Association, Stefan Genth, tightening up antitrust law would be a big mistake. He “strongly” advises against the project.
The German Trade Association has sharply criticized the plans of Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck (Greens) for stricter antitrust laws.
“We consider the introduction of abuse-independent unbundling options and antitrust profit skimming claims without proof of fault to be a mistake,” said Managing Director Stefan Genth of the editorial network Germany. “Such a blank check for the Federal Cartel Office would favor arbitrary and politically motivated decisions.” He recommends “urgently” not to pursue the project any further.
According to Habeck’s plans, the Cartel Office should be given more options to intervene in order to be able to take tougher action against mineral oil companies. In addition to more powerful sector inquiries, competition watchdogs should also be able to skim off profits if companies abuse their market power. As a last resort, demergers should be possible. Background: On June 1st, the energy tax on petrol and diesel was reduced to relieve motorists. But this was hardly noticeable at the pumps.
Genth: Negative consequences for competition
Genth said that retail was also affected by high petrol and energy costs and could understand the anger. However, the Economics Minister’s plans would have negative consequences for competition, consumers and Germany as a business location. «The activities of companies in competition are aimed precisely at gaining a strong market position. If a market power that has been achieved on its own and has not been abused is generally suspected by the legislator per se, this can dampen the commitment of companies on the market from the outset,” said Genth.
The introduction of an abuse-independent possibility for skimming profits also appears to be “extremely risky”, Genth continues. “Also because the skimming of legally generated income would be possible, the serious question then arises as to whether such a legal measure would be constitutional at all,” he warned.