Antitrust guideline of the Gütegemeinschaft Mineralwolle e.V. (Quality Association for Mineral Wool) (GGM)
As a quality association under the umbrella of the RAL Deutsches Institut für Gütesicherung (German Institute for Quality Assurance), the GGM as a professional association for the purpose of quality assurance with regard to compliance with health-related legal requirements - like other associations - is generally in a difficult competitive environment. The various meetings and events bring together representatives of competing companies to exchange information on quality assurance issues and association-specific projects of common interest. In this context the GGM fulfils an important task for the technical-scientific quality assurance of mineral wool products.
However, the activities of GGM and its organs must not lead to a restriction of competition between the member companies, in particular to the detriment of suppliers and customers. In particular, meetings of its organs organised by GGM may not be used for anti-competitive purposes.
GGM is just as aware of its duty of care with regard to compliance with antitrust law as its member companies. The latter support the RCDs in their efforts to avoid any anti-competitive action.
All GGM employees and all other participants in informal and formal meetings must ensure that there are no violations of antitrust regulations in the course of or on the occasion of the association's work. If the chairperson of the meeting or a GGM employee discovers that such a violation occurs at a GGM meeting, he will actively inform the participants of this inadmissibility and ensure that the conduct is terminated.
It is evident from the rules set out above that violations of antitrust law can be committed in various forms. In addition to the agreement of contracts or formal resolutions, actions prohibited by antitrust law often also occur as concerted practices. The latter includes any practical cooperation between competing undertakings that takes the place of risky competition. Such coordination of market behaviour may already take place when information is exchanged at informal meetings.
The following conduct must always be observed in all association activities:
- No meetings or other events without an agenda set in advance.
- Proper logging of meetings (content and participants)
- No informal meetings in the context of association activities and events
- No decisions which may unjustifiably restrict members in their competitive activities.
- No recommendations of the association which are likely to influence the competitive behaviour of the members.
- No organisation of market information systems or statistics which allow conclusions to be drawn about the market behaviour of individual market participants.
- No supplier evaluations which could lead to uniform behaviour of the members.
- No call for boycott measures on the basis of which member companies can impose supply or purchase restrictions.
- No information or other exchange of experience between members that leads to or is likely to lead to uniform market behaviour.
- No participation or facilitation of competition violations by member companies; in particular no participation in:
- the agreement or coordination on prices and other price-relevant factors,
- the exchange of information on individual market data subject to confidentiality,
- the determination of market shares or quotas, o the allocation of markets,
- the agreement on production and delivery restrictions,
- Submission agreements.
Please note: This list is not exhaustive and the threshold between (permitted) autonomous and (prohibited) coordinated parallel behaviour is often extremely low. Procedure in case of doubt between prohibited behaviour and admissible association work
- The boundaries between behaviour prohibited by antitrust law and reliable association work are often not easily recognisable. In particular, German and European antitrust law provides that in certain individual cases defined in more detail in the law, restrictive practices may also be exempted (e.g. in specialisation agreements or in the field of research and development, the same applies to medium-sized cartels). The GGM, like its member companies, must also carefully examine in its work as an association whether the relevant requirements for such an exception are met.
In all cases in which the employees of GGM and all other participants in informal and formal meetings are in doubt as to whether their work complies with the antitrust law, they should immediately contact the managing director of GGM:
Dipl.-Ing. Isolde A. Elkan
GGM Quality Association for Mineral Wool e. V.
D-64380 Rossdorf, Germany