Respond now to BIS Competition Consultation – Deadline: 13 June 2011

The Cooperatition Incubator is encouraging all our campaign partners to try and submit a response to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) consultation on the future of the UK competition regulation regime:

Consultation document: A competition regime for growth – A consultation on options for reform

Since 2008 Business in the Community and The Cooperatition Incubator have been actively researching – with the input of a number of experts – the competition law barriers to companies collaborating through voluntary agreements/standards to internalise the often substantial external social and environmental costs of doing business.   As Andrew Dakers’ article last Friday on The Guardian Sustainable Business Blog explained, given the huge reliance today on self-regulation, this is now more important than ever.

THE PROBLEM

Unfortunately cases such as the Dairy investigation and Laundry detergents have seen companies, trying to do the right thing by society and the environment, fined many tens of millions. Clearly the system needs to be fixed.   We believe resolving this problem is an integral part of shaping a responsible marketplace as we rebuild and strengthen the British economy.

In the past 12 months the problem has been recognised by Robert Peston (BBC), Jason Clay (WWF US) and the British Prime Minister David Cameron.   Work is now underway between the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), Business in the Community (BITC) and the Office of Fair Trading to unpack and resolve the problem – but we still need your support to ensure the necessary changes are implemented.

A WAY FORWARD

Breaking down the competition law barrier to scaling up responsible business practice comes down to resolving fundamental problems with regard to how the UK competition authorities and EU DG Competition presently interpret the legal framework.  We believe now is the time for a change in approach if degradation of our natural environment is to be stopped and social challenges, such as obesity and alcoholism, tackled head on by business, NGOs and government working together through co/self-regulatory frameworks.

To help support the campaign please send a short email to Duncan Lawson (Consumer and Competition Policy, Department of Business, Innovation and Skills): cma@bis.gsi.gov.uk by Monday 13 June 2011.

Your message could be short and simple – perhaps along the lines of:


Dear Mr Lawson, I am writing in response to ‘A competition regime for growth – A consultation on options for reform’ consultation questions: “Q.2 The Government seeks your views on the potential creation of a single Competition and Markets Authority; Q.19 The Government seeks your views on appropriate objectives for the [Consumer & Markets Authority] CMA and whether these should be embedded in statute; and Q.20 The Government see your views on whether the CMA should have a clear principal competition focus.

“We welcome the proposals for a new CMA.  We believe it is vitally important that public interest factors are explicitly integrated into the objectives of the CMA, as was the intention of the previous competition regime. A new business unit specialised in balancing public interest factors, supported by guidance, tools and ways of working with other government departments should be a core objective of the new CMA – potentially embedded in statute.  This will provide the certainly that greater investment in the UK demands.  Investors will know that they can secure the comfort needed before they make long-term investments in areas where voluntary self-regulation/ collaboration on environmental and social issues is required.

“We welcome the Prime Minister’s commitment to deal with this problem last December and urge all stakeholders to continue to work together towards a rapid resolution of the issues.  The CMA should focus on competition, but also have the capability as described to balance public interest factors, particularly in the case of voluntary agreements.  This should build on: the Office of Fair Trading’s (OFT’s) 2009/10 research in this area; balancing of public interest factors achieved by other UK and international regulators; and the OFT’s existing experience in approving ‘consumer codes’.

Yours sincerely…”


We appreciate this request is very close to the deadline, but hope you can take five minutes out to send a short email.

Thank you for your support – and if we can clarify any aspects of our research conclusions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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