Competition Law and Sustainability Conference 2019


Deadline: 15 May 2019

The mainstream price-centred and efficiency-driven competition policy tends to ignore public policy concerns that are not closely related to the functioning of the market and consumers’ wellbeing. Moreover, the economic understanding behind competition law is such that environmental and social issues have significance before antitrust authorities only when they can be presented in strict economic terms based on a cost-benefit analysis. Not only is this narrow understanding prone to ignoring the environmentally and socially harmful effects of “competitive” firm conduct, it also sets up barriers against pro-sustainability initiatives due to fear of antitrust scrutiny and fines.

In the context of a global system of production that is increasingly interconnected and exponentially exercising pressure on the planet and people’s lives, this conference is brought about by the desire to imagine a system of competition law (or beyond competition law) that is fully embedded in the double limit of the planetary boundaries and of social considerations, inspired by Kate Raworth’s “Doughnut Economics” and elaborated by Tomaso Ferrando & Claudio Lombardi in “EU Competition Law and Sustainability in Food Systems: Addressing the Broken Links”.

To achieve this goal, the organizing partners aim to bring together young academics challenging the status quo with more experienced experts in the areas of competition law and ecological sustainability to rethink competition law and discuss new ways of regulation, interactions between markets, regulators and society and legal enforcement that take into account social and environmental externalities.

We propose to reflect on and create solutions to the following issues at the competition-sustainability crossroads, although the contributors are not limited to these examples:

  • Rising concentration in the agrochemical and seed industries and the retail sector
  • The abuse of superior bargaining power in global food supply chains
  • Evidence of broken links in a specific supply chain (eg cocoa, banana, or chicken)
  • The competition law barriers to pro-sustainability cooperation among competitors
  • The impact of increasing product market concentration on the labour markets
  • The (un)sustainability of data collection and harnessing
  • The clash between the territoriality of enforcement and the transnationality of production chains
  • The limits of the doctrine of abuse of dominant position when discussing producers/buyers contractual dynamics
  • States, production and public goods and anti-dumping regulation

We also welcome a broader critique of the consumer welfare standard and the idea of “competitiveness” which drive competition law enforcement in the context of their shortcomings vis-à-vis socio-environmental sustainability. 

Submission Instructions

We invite submission from graduate students (master’s and PhD) and early-career researchers (up to four years into tenure track) in law, economics, and all other social sciences. To submit an individual paper, potential participants must e-mail a Microsoft Word or PDF attachment containing an abstract of no more than 750 words long with a CV no later than May 15th, 2019 to the following address: Published papers do not qualify, but papers that have been accepted for publication at the time of the conference can be submitted. Submissions can be individual or co-authored. We accept abstracts in English and in French. Please note, however, that the conference presentations will be given in English.


Authors whose abstracts have been accepted will be notified by the end of May. The presenting authors are required to submit a full paper or an extended abstract by June 15th. The selection committee will organize the selected papers into different discussion groups based on relevance and subject area. The conference program will be communicated after the selection process.

Cost and Registration

There is no cost of registration. Lunch and refreshments will be provided during the conference. Few small travel contributions are available to candidates who may require them. Attendees are in charge of the remainder of their travel expenses and accommodation and should seek funding from their home institution or other bodies.

If you have any queries, feel free to reach us at