DThe Monopolies Commission is skeptical about the idea of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology to make it easier for the Cartel Office to skim off company profits. This measure is at the very end of the process, there are more effective means, said the chairman of the committee, Jürgen Kühling, on Tuesday in Berlin. One could strengthen the so-called benefit skimming, which has never been used in practice by the Cartel Office. “There is nothing inherently wrong with that.” However, the cartel office should impose fines more often, as the EU Commission does much more regularly. If there are obstacles, they must be removed. So there is a need for action here. However, it is fundamentally difficult to prove antitrust violations on the mineral oil market – also because there are fewer and fewer witnesses.
In view of the high fuel prices in the wake of the Russian attack on Ukraine, Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck (Greens) wants to tighten competition law and give the cartel office more opportunities to intervene, for example to be able to take more effective action against oil companies. According to a position paper, he wants to give the cartel guardians more opportunities to skim off profits when companies abuse their market power. As a last resort, demolitions should also be possible. The amendment to the Act against Restraints of Competition (GWB) is to be brought forward to this year.
Irrespective of proven violations of antitrust law, Habeck wants to create a “disconsolidation option”, i.e. a form of break-up. Details are not yet known. Kuhling said it might make sense as a last resort. In the UK, unbundling has been used successfully twice – in the cement industry and at airports. However, sector studies are more important in order to better understand certain markets and how illegal collusion works.