On August 30, 2022, the Federal Cartel Office (“FCO”) published its Annual Report 2021/2022.[1]  Andreas Mundt, the President of the FCO, pointed out two areas of the FCO’s focus: First,  the collusion of undertakings under the guise of inflation and Russia’s war against Ukraine.  Second, to use the flexibility of antitrust law to allow for a degree of cooperation that is necessary in times of crisis.  Moreover, the FCO continues to pursue its digital agenda for the digital economy and the protection of consumer rights. 

After publishing its preliminary finding in February 2022[1], the German Federal Cartel Office (“FCO”) recently prohibited the Deutsche Lufthansa AG group (“Lufthansa”) from terminating longstanding cooperation agreements with Condor Flugdienst GmbH (“Condor”).[2]  Under the cooperation agreements, Lufthansa is obliged to provide feeder flights to Condor’s long-haul passengers.

On September 26, 2022, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action published a draft of the Competition Enforcement Act which will amend the German Act Against Restraints of Competition (“ARC”) for the 11th time (“Draft 11th Amendment”).[1]  The aim of the Draft 11th Amendment is to strengthen the Federal Cartel Office’s (“FCO”) enforcement powers beyond the existing enforcement of antitrust and abuse of dominance violations. 

On January 18, 2022, the German Federal Cartel Office published a press release of its review of two sustainability initiatives. Only a week later, on January 25, 2022, the FCO provided further guidance for the implementation of sustainability initiatives under competition law: It concluded that a proposed agreement in the milk sector to introduce surcharges for the benefit of milk producers was anticompetitive.

In 2021, the German Federal Cartel Office (“FCO”) concluded three major proceedings on resale price maintenance and vertical price fixing.  It fined five musical instrument companies a total of € 21 million for resale price maintenance and horizontal price-fixing, a backpack maker € 2 million for setting minimum retail prices, and consumer electronics manufacturer € 7 million for resale price maintenance.  These cases illustrate that the FCO considers resale price maintenance a serious infringement for which it imposes significant fines.

In 2021, the German Federal Cartel Office (“FCO”) concluded a long-lasting proceeding into price fixing and information exchange in the stainless steel sector after it had already in early 2021 fined steel forgers € 35 million for information[1], while it unsuccessfully defended its decision relating to an alleged “Kölsch” beer cartel before the Düsseldorf Court of Appeal (“DCA”).  The FCO will find itself before the courts again soon as it has appealed the DCA’s “Kölsch” beer cartel judgment and two undertakings have appealed the FCO’s stainless steel cartel decision.