Competition watchdog welcomes temporary weakening of competition laws

Charlie Spargo's picture
by Charlie Spargo

To help serve and feed the country during the current outbreak of COVID-19, the government has temporarily relaxed competition restrictions, a move that has been welcomed by the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA).

It has said that it was "very conscious" about how current laws against monopolisation could prevent places like supermarkets working together effectively to serve the UK during this crisis period.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said earlier in the week that the Government would “do whatever it takes to help them feed the nation.” As of next week, retailers will be allowed to share data with each other on stock levels, cooperate to keep shops open, or share distribution depots and delivery vans.

In 2019, the CMA blocked a merger between two of the country's largest food retailers, Sainsbury's and Asda. In response to this week's governmental announcement, the regulator said it welcomed the change and would not enforce any action against businesses cooperating together.

However, it made sure to emphasise that exploitation would not be accepted, saying it would not "tolerate unscrupulous businesses exploiting the crisis as a ‘cover’ for non-essential collusion.”