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Wettbewerb und Regulierung jetzt auch in der Wasserwirtschaft?

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  • Jürgen Kühling

Abstract

In the past, the Hessian Cartel Authority issued orders against water suppliers because they were charging excessively high prices and abused their dominant position. Those decisions were based on an analysis of comparable markets. These orders were upheld by the Federal Surpreme Court (BGH) on February 2, 2010. In this development one can see somewhat of a forerunner of a pricing regulation through antitrust law within the water industry. However, the following decision by the Cartel Authority of Baden-Wuerttemberg one year later, which was based on an analysis of the actual costs was only recently quashed by the Higher Regional Court (OLG) of Stuttgart. Considering the resulting insecurities regarding the application of the legal framework, the question arises, whether the water suppliers should be subjected to regulation by the Federal Network Authority - just like other network based industries, such as telecommunications, energy, post and railways. This paper comes to the conclusion that the current approach using the antitrust law is generally reasonable as a first step. What seems even more important than the choice between a sector specific regulation and antitrust law is to abolish the option of an administrative price control of public water suppliers which proved to be ineffective. Should the full application of cartel law, however, turn out to be ineffective in the future, a national sector specific solution should be considered. Die Verfügungen der Landeskartellbehörde Hessen gegen Wasserversorger wegen zu hoher Wasserpreise, die auf eine Vergleichsmarktanalyse gestützt wurden, und deren Bestätigung durch den BGH am 2.2.2010 waren erste Vorboten einer sich verschärfenden kartellrechtlichen Entgeltkontrolle der Wasserwirtschaft. Die folgende Entscheidung der Landeskartellbehörde Baden-Württemberg auf der Basis einer Kostenanalyse ein Jahr später ist dagegen unlängst vom OLG Stuttgart gestoppt worden. Vor dem Hintergrund der dadurch ausgelösten Unsicherheiten stellt sich die Frage, ob die Wasserwirtschaft nicht wie die anderen Netzwirtschaften (Telekommunikation, Energie, Post, Eisenbahntransport) auch einer Regulierung durch die in den übrigen Wirtschaftszweigen erfolgreich tätige Bundesnetzagentur unterworfen werden sollte. Der Beitrag gelangt zu dem Ergebnis, dass der kartellrechtliche Ansatz gegenwärtig sinnvoll ist und die Option auf eine abgabenrechtliche Kontrolle beseitigt werden muss. Sollte sich die kartellrechtliche Kontrolle jedoch nicht als wirksam herausstellen, so wäre eine bundeseinheitliche, sektorspezifische Lösung zu prüfen.

Suggested Citation

  • Jürgen Kühling, 2012. "Wettbewerb und Regulierung jetzt auch in der Wasserwirtschaft?," Vierteljahrshefte zur Wirtschaftsforschung / Quarterly Journal of Economic Research, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 81(1), pages 183-200.
  • Handle: RePEc:diw:diwvjh:81-1-12
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    Keywords

    Kartellrecht; Trinkwasserpreise; Missbrauchskontrolle;

    JEL classification:

    • K2 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law

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