The European Commission is investigating retailers’ purchase alliances. Agecore, Coopernic and Epic are the specific targets for now, but stricter rules for all may be on their way.
Against competition rules?
Are supermarkets allowed to cooperate in purchase associations? It is a thorny political issue, which Europe now seems to be putting back on the table. According to the EU’s competition watchdog, they can lead to lower prices and better quality for consumers, but caution is needed. In some cases, they may violate anti-trust rules.
Last year, for example, complaints led to a new investigation at Agecore, Coopernic and Epic. The investigation is continuing today, retailers Edeka and Colruyt confirmed to Lebensmittel Zeitung. Suppliers believe that the purchase alliances have too much power.
However, all retail alliances could soon be targeted as the Commission is working on new anti-trust rules for horizontal collaborations between companies. These “horizontal guidelines” were supposed to come into force at the beginning of this year, but have been postponed until 1 July. In the context of the enquiry, the question now arises whether alliances will be treated more strictly in the revised directives. The revised draft is expected in early June.