In recent years, much debate at EU level has focused on competition law and how it needs to change to meet growing global competition. Now that the European Commission has published a statement on competition policy, the message is broadly welcome, writes Stefan Sagebro, expert on competition issues at the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise.
Anyone who has followed the competition debate will be familiar with the power struggle that has played out in Europe in recent years. In one corner, those demanding a relaxation to competition rules and greater scope for government control and intervention through greater public support and regulations designed to “protect” the EU and make us more self-sufficient. This includes France and Germany, as well as Commissioner Breton. In the opposing corner: those who want to safeguard strict regulations and who want to strengthen rather than dilute competition in the single market, and who advocate free trade and diversification as a way of protecting value chains. This group includes several smaller member states, including the Nordics, and at EU level, Commissioner Vestager.
Against this background, the recent statement presented by the Commission was highly significant. Would Franco-German pressure bear fruit?
Overall, the answer is a resounding “no”! The Commission reiterates that strong and effective competition supervision provides the best basic conditions for creating growth and meeting the challenges created by the green and digital transitions. It is only when markets function well, when companies are able to compete on equal terms and when efficient and innovative companies can succeed and less successful ones are allowed to fail, that the necessary dynamic and burgeoning business climate can be created. Well-functioning competition increases the driving forces for investment and creates benefits for consumers. In addition, strong and vibrant competition in the single market is the best “practice” for companies to become strong enough to grow and compete on the global playing field.
So, to some extent, we can relax.
But was everything the Commission said positive? The answer is, again, no.
In addition, the Commission describes in detail the extensive revision of the entire regulatory framework that is currently underway. The list can be read here. It is safe to say that Commission staff will not be at risk of unemployment in the coming years.EUKonkurrens