Towards a bolder Annual Report on EU Competition Policy

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MEP Stéphanie Yon-Courtin

The Annual Report on EU Competition Policy aims at providing the EP assessment of the Commission report on Competition policy, which gives detailed information on the most important policy and legislative initiatives, and on decisions adopted by the European Commission in application of EU competition law during that year.

The main conclusions and recommendations of the draft report, were presented earlier to Commission’s Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, and today to the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) by its Vice-Chair and rapporteur, MEP Stéphanie Yon-Courtin:

1. Competition policy can play a key role in globalisation and its challenges. The Commission must adopt a more global and positive approach to industrial cooperation to foster the emergence of globally competitive European leaders. Tools such as foreign direct investment controls and reciprocity in public procurement must be used and the definition of the relevant market revised to encompass the global dimension and potential future competition.

2. Digital technology is no longer a separate sector but a feature of our economy. Price is no longer the only variable to measure consumer well-being. The market power dimension of “data” aggregators must be taken into account when identifying abuse of dominant position and in the context of mergers. It is urgent to open up the sample of possible remedies by considering reversing the burden of proof to avoid “killer acquisitions”, by systematizing the use of provisional measures and by ensuring that behavioural remedies are targeted, effective and tested in advance with the victim company.

3. The digital, ecological and technological changes facing the European Union make it necessary to reconsider the texts applicable to sectoral policies and in particular to relaunch sectoral surveys in the light of these new challenges. The State aid rules will also have to be reviewed accordingly. As such, the system for Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEI) must be simplified and streamlined.

4. The European Parliament must play its full part in competition policy. Competition policy is mainly in the hands of the European Commission. The European Parliament, which is the only body directly elected by citizens to represent them, is too rarely consulted. Decisions taken by DG COMP are sometimes misunderstood by governments and public opinion due to a lack of transparency and accountability to citizens. It is essential that Parliament has an enhanced role and powers in competition law and policy, at a time when the US Congress even has the power to initiate investigations. National regulators and national consumer groups must also be fully involved in order to de-compartmentalise competition policy.

“The previous rules are outdated, for instance there were no Tech- Giants managing such a big amount of data from customers and clients, that’s why we must review the Competition rules in order to adapt them to the current digital times and avoid those companies abusing from their power. At the same time, we must help our start-ups and SMEs develop within our single and global markets”, said Yon-Courtin.

Note for editors:

Vote on the report in Committee: 18 February 2020

Plenary vote: March 2020 session

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