This morning the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee approved the annual report on EU competition policy by Renew Europe’s MEP Stéphanie Yon-Courtin, focused on 5 main areas:
1. Strengthening competition policy in globalization
At a time when companies are facing unfair competition from certain companies which are largely subsidized by their Member State, even though this is prohibited within our own internal market, the European Commission must ensure reciprocity with third countries in matters of public procurement , state aid and investment policy, in order to avoid distortion of competition and asymmetry between European and non-European operators.
2. Adapting the rules to the digital age.
Our antitrust toolbox is solid. However, it must be noted that the procedures are costly, lengthy and do not prevent irreversible effects on competition. The Commission must adapt its legislative arsenal to the specificities and realities of the digital world: more systematic use of protective measures, more targeted behavioral remedies, ex ante control to detect market failures in due time, the revision of the concepts of abuse of dominant position and essential facilities.
In this regard, particular attention must be paid to data, which represents real market power. We invite the Commission to review the rules on mergers and acquisitions and to strengthen the antitrust action, taking into account the effects of market and network power associated with personal and financial data; in particular, we invite the Commission to consider the monitoring of this data as indirect proof of the existence of market power and invite the Commission to learn the lessons from the merger between Facebook and WhatsApp and to adapt its criteria accordingly. In this context, we invite the Commission to propose that any merger on the market of this data be subject to a prior informal declaration.
3. Articulation of competition policy with industrial policy.
Like the recently announced European Battery Alliance, we hope that more such projects will see the light of day in key sectors such as the transition to a more sustainable economy, a competitive European data industry and digital infrastructure. .
We therefore invite the Commission to adopt a more favorable approach to a strong European industrial policy in order to guarantee and maintain high competitiveness on world markets and allow the emergence of innovative European leaders in priority sectors for the EU, while respecting the independent application of the competition rules which guarantee fair conditions of competition and which is not to the detriment of the interests of SMEs and consumers.
4. Green deal and competition policy
As announced by Commission’s Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, the revision of the state aid guidelines will have to take into account the objectives defined by the Green Deal. This is why, in this report, we support this review in line with the Green Deal in order to encourage the necessary investments while avoiding abuses which could lead to market distortions.
5. Strengthening the role of the European Parliament.
More than ever, The European Parliament must be at the heart of the European reactor. In matters of competition policy, the European Parliament must act as a real co-pilot and not just a passenger, and thus be better associated with the development of the strategy and the monitoring of decisions taken by the European Commission.
The EP should be more involved in the work of working groups or experts, such as the international competition network, as observers, in order to have better knowledge and be kept informed, thus being better prepared when the EP has the opportunity to have the role of co-legislator (eg: “damages” or “ECN +” directive)
Parliament should be involved when it comes to soft law: this will be particularly crucial when revising the notice on the definition of the relevant market but also on the revision of the state aid guidelines.
MEP Stéphanie YON-COURTIN, rapporteur on this file said:
“It is a crucial report since it will be a question of defining the next guidelines and major axes in the area of competition policy, a key policy for the European Union and the future of businesses across Europe. ”
On March 10 the report will be submitted to Plenary in Strasbourg.