Posts tagged ‘collaboration’

Cameron acknowledges need to address competition law issues at BITC AGM

December 3rd, 2010
The Prime Minister David Cameron said at yesterday’s BITC AGM and Leadership Summit: “I get the message loud and clear, and we will do everything we can to tackle those barriers head on – whether it is the red tape you face …whether it is being able to collaborate as businesses without having the competition authorities throwing you in jail. I understand the barriers. We are going to work with you to get rid of them.”

This was in response to the business challenge presented by Sir Stuart Rose off the back of BITC’s latest member research (pg 6):
Competition law
A perceived barrier to greater business collaboration is where business feel it could be deemed anti-competitive to come together to discuss some of the core sector wide issues, even when this could have a powerful social or environmental impact.

Often there is felt to be insufficient commercial advantage for one organisation to take the lead. Business leaders suggest creating neutral cross-sector environments for companies to come together without fear of reprimand under competition law, enabling more companies to take significant steps towards greater engagement.

“70% of business leaders surveyed say it is important that government removes the red tape associated with businesses collaborating on the impacts of their core business.”

Today’s FT reports“Rules that prevent welfare claimants from taking part-time jobs or longer work placements should be eased, business leaders said, along with competition laws that prevent businesses from collaborating on sector-wide initiatives… Mr Cameron pledged to “tackle these barriers head on””

BITC CR Practitioner Competency Map includes competition law

October 6th, 2010

Business in the Community’s (BITC) CR Academy has launched a CR Practitioner Competency Map.  We welcome the inclusion of competition law in the map as it is now vitally important that CR practitioners build their knowledge in this area to ensure legislative compliance, as well as pressing forward with the highest impact collaborations possible under the current framework.

CR Practitioner Competency Map Activity Area Prioritisation Tool refers to “Ethical competition” and Key CR Knowledge the
‘Competition Law’ reference links to http://cooperatition.org/tools/getting-started

Opportunity to improve draft EU Horizontal Agreements Guidelines, says The Cooperatition Incubator

June 25th, 2010

The Cooperatition Incubator has set out five recommendations for improvements to the draft EU Horizontal Agreements Guidelines 2010 in a response to the European Commission consultation.

We welcome the draft EU Horizontal Agreements Guidelines 2010, which is much clearer than the 2001 guidance.  Our response focuses on the “standardisation agreements” guidance (pgs 66-82) and concludes with five recommendations:

1)      The need to include a worked example around a supply chain social voluntary standard, perhaps labour-related, where additional employment costs are passed on to the consumer;

2)      The need to include additional, contrasting, worked environmental examples where increased production costs to deliver qualitative benefits may be passed on to the end consumer;

3)      The need to include best practice guidance and/or examples on what parties to discussions around a potential voluntary agreement should consider “general and aggregated” versus “specific or sensitive” information;

4)      The need to include information on where in EU nations’ competition authorities groups of companies seeking to form voluntary agreements can get advice, such as the unit responsible for ‘Short-form Opinions’ in the UK OFT;

5)      Consideration needs to be given to how the European Commission encourages national competition authorities (and departments for business) to issue guidance that compliments, rather than undermines EU guidance.

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Commission on Competition have raised many similar points to The Cooperatition Incubator in their submission to the EU.

Our submission is also published on the European Commission website.

Dakers speaks out on Competition Law reform at Liberal Democrat conference

September 23rd, 2009

In a speech to Liberal Democrat conference today, Andrew Dakers has urged the party to think afresh on competition law and the role it has to play in corporate responsibility.

He said:

“The paper [Are we being served?] forgets that in reality markets are not just about competition, but also cooperation between businesses. The negative social and environmental externalities that doing business can create will not be resolved by competition alone.

“For the past decade companies that take their responsibilities seriously have run scared of our current competition law framework. In the late 90s this lost both a mechanism for companies that wanted to collaborate on social & environmental issues through voluntary agreements to get these authorised by the OFT, as well as a public interest test. These mechanisms were vital when voluntary agreements involved internalising the external costs of a product and would potentially increase the price to the end consumer.

“The mess of current legislation is well illustrated by the ongoing OFT case regarding supermarkets. Blamed by the public for their low payments to dairy farmers, some supermarkets increased both their payments to farmers and the price to the end consumer. For this the OFT has fined them tens of millions.

“Sure sometimes there is going to be collusive behaviour that drives excessive profiteering and is against the interests of the consumer. This abuse of market power must be cracked down on hard. However there are also great business leaders and companies – even in the finance sector – who would encourage their peers to take more voluntary action on environmental, social and corporate governance issues if they had the tools in competition law. This is particularly necessary when government is one step behind public opinion and scientific evidence – or when government would be over-reaching itself by producing yet more legislation and enforcement bureaucracy. Or when achieving the vast changes in business practices required needs sector ownership of the problem…

“Taking this balanced view, that doesn’t tarnish all business with the same brush, is so necessary if we are to shape a new era in capitalism.

“All of these issues could and should be addressed by this working group. As a party we must produce policy that recognises we’re all in it together: employer, owner, employee and consumer.”

Cement sector cooperation managing competition law constraints

September 11th, 2009

An interview on FT.com (11 Sept 09) with Bruno Lafont, Chief Executive of Lafarge, the French building materials group, highlights what is being achieved by cooperation within the cement production sector.

Asked about the Copenhagen Summit he said: “It is very important that the world together understands what the challenges are. And we should aim to eliminate the risks created by climate change, which are very serious for our children and for the children of our children. There is a need for strong cooperation but [also] an agreement on the goal and how to share the pain, because there will be a cost.”

“Business first should understand the goal and take its share of the goal. For example, the cement business, which has a strong ecological footprint, has taken some actions. We have created cement sustainable initiatives where 30 cement groups are working together at fixing goals, committing to actions, CO2 reductions, improvements in their governance and on their ecological footprint. So that means the sector has started to regulate itself.”

For more information on the Cement Sustainability Initiative visit http://www.wbcsdcement.org/

Significantly the initiative has carefully managed competition law issues:
“Request GNR system data… The PMC will review all requests to determine, first, if the data is available, and second, if responses to the query would fall within the limits of confidentiality and anti-trust constraints adopted for this system.”
Source: http://www.wbcsdcement.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=66&Itemid=133

“Data Confidentiality …PricewaterhouseCoopers also provides a guarantee of non-disclosure of confidential information and compliance with competition law.”
Source: http://www.wbcsdcement.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=65&Itemid=132