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AFCA publishes final Guidelines on Sustainability Agreements for companies

In accordance with the European Commission’s European Green Deal, the Austrian lawmaker acted on its own initiate and adopted the Cartel and Competition Law Amendment Act in 2021 (KaWeRÄG 2021) to gear cartel and competition law more strongly towards sustainability goals.

 Corporate arrangements that restrict competition but contribute significantly to an ecologically sustainable or carbon-neutral economy should profit to a greater extent than previously from an exemption from the ban on cartels.

In early June, the Austrian Federal Competition Authority (AFCA) published a draft of its Guidelines on Sustainability Agreements for companies. This draft was prepared in consultation with the Federal Ministry for Climate Action. The AFCA welcomed comments until the end of June, and in the end received more than 20 comments from national and international experts, ministries, professional associations, interest groups, authorities and courts. These comments were included in the final version of the guidelines. The AFCA also discussed the matter with several stakeholders. We wish to thank everyone for their comments and discussions.

The Guidelines should help companies planning to enter into sustainability agreements to better understand the application of cartel law. If, after self-assessment, there are still doubts as to the correct application of the relevant provisions, it is recommended that companies contact the AFCA in good time. The AFCA may give its assessment, and in this context will also regularly consult with the Federal Cartel Prosecutor (Federal Ministry of Justice).

It remains to be seen for what type of sustainability agreements these Guidelines will be relevant.

The Sustainability Guidelines are intended to be a living document, i.e. practical experience will be incorporated into updated versions in future. We are happy to receive enquiries and comments by email to: wettbewerb@bwb.gv.at.

The final Sustainability Guidelines can be downloaded (in German) from the following link:

AFCA’s Sustainability Guidelines, final version

An English version will be provided at a later stage.