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A paper by Amsterdam School of Economics (ASE) professor Maarten Pieter Schinkel and Tinbergen Institute alumnus Leonard Treuren has been accepted for publication in the 'Journal of Environmental Economics and Management'. The paper has had an impact on the ongoing debate about European competition policy and sustainability agreements.

The publication Corporate Social Responsibility by Joint Agreement covers their theory work on cooperative sustainability agreements between competitors. These agreements are meant  to produce more sustainability in how companies operate. But when such agreements restrict competition, they potentially go against competition law. In their paper, Schinkel and Treuren study how different types of agreements affect companies’ incentives to make sustainability efforts.

Policy impact

When companies make joint agreements to increase sustainability efforts, the competition authorities have to assess their agreements to see whether they can be exempted from anti-cartel regulations. The research has affected how these agreements are assessed. The ASE researchers warned that sustainability agreements amongst competitors are usually ineffective when it comes to boosting companies’ efforts to invest in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Allowing these agreements induces both a reduction of green transition efforts carried out by firms and cartel greenwashing. These findings influenced the policy of both the European Commission and the Netherlands Authority for Consumers & Markets (ACM).

International interest

The work on sustainability agreements and competition policy by Schinkel and co-authors, including also Yossi Spiegel (Tel Aviv University), has attracted interest around the globe. Schinkel has presented it in academic and policy seminars in numerous countries, outside Europe including Japan, North America and South America. He was interviewed on Let's Talk Competition when the European Commission’s guidelines were published and earlier contributions to the public debate were reported here.