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Poniedziałek, 21 lutego 2005 r. - Strasburg Wersja poprawiona

16. Polityka konkurencji (2003)

  Der Präsident. Nach der Tagesordnung folgt nun der Bericht von Jonathan Evans (A6-24/2005), im Namen des Ausschusses für Wirtschaft und Währung, über den XXXIII. Bericht der Kommission über die Wettbewerbspolitik - 2003 [2004/2139(INI)].


  Evans, Jonathan (PPE-DE), rapporteur. Mr President, it might seem a little incongruous that we are today, at the beginning of 2005, discussing the European Commission's Report on Competition Policy for 2003. That is just because last year was election year, the debate as such is about very much wider issues.

It is an opportunity for Parliament to place on record, as we should, our enormous respect for the outgoing Commissioner, Mario Monti, who was the Competition Commissioner at the time of this report. It is inevitable that the report itself and Parliament's response draws upon the major programme for the reorganisation of competition policy for which Mr Monti has received so much praise.

This is a debate that had to take place with industry, and not just in relation to the modernisation of the anti-trust rules themselves. Industry had to recognise the purpose of this reform. The aim was to do away with a system that was in itself unnecessarily bureaucratic so as to redirect the resources of the Commission to cracking down properly on hard-core cartels. In addition, we have seen the reform of the Merger Regulation, reorganisation of the merger control task force and the first steps in relation to state-aid reform. I know our new Commissioner also shares this view in relation to the legacy of Mr Monti, because only recently she has been speaking at Bocconi University and making very similar remarks about Mr Monti's contribution.

It is also inevitable that we would direct our attention not just to this programme of work and the lessons to be learned from it, but also to the way in which that programme of work now affects efforst to improve Europe's competitiveness. We are not trying to change the rules about competition policy for the sake of it or as a form of bureaucratic exercise. The purpose here is to act in the interests of consumers to increase Europe's competitiveness and develop growth and jobs. That is what the operation of an effective competition policy is all about.

I want to say a word about the new Commissioner and I hope it does not embarrass her. Many people have asked me my opinion about the change we will have now. I suppose up to four weeks ago we were all asking that, to some extent. The Commissioner has been very active in the course of the last month. On 3 February she spoke to Parliament's Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and set on record her agenda in this role. I have already referred to her speech in Milan at Mario Monti's university, and on 17 February Mrs Kroes made another speech in Paris. Taken together, these speeches very clearly set out the progressive agenda that the European Commission intends to take forward.

I commend the Commission for being determined to clarify the rules in relation to state-aid reform. In our report we refer to this as an area where we are seeking further action on the part of the Commission. This does not mean a situation in which the Commission just sits idly by waiting to see whether somebody is going to make a complaint about uncompetitive behaviour in some part of the economy. We want to ensure that the whole way in which business operates within Europe is one that encourages free and fair competition and consequently enhances the competitiveness of Europe.

Finally, a further area for which Mr Monti deserves special praise is his work in relation to international cooperation. We can cooperate even when we are being competitive. I well remember the reaction of some people in America a few years ago to the GE-Honeywell decision that was taken by Mr Monti. Today I had the honour of being present to hear President Bush's speech and afterwards seeing him shake the hand of Alex Schaub, the Director-General of Competition at the time that decision was made. That is an example of international cooperation. I commend the outgoing Commissioner and I look forward to the tenure of the incoming Commissioner, Commissioner Kroes.


  Kroes, Member of the Commission. Mr President, it is a great pleasure to be here for my first debate with you in plenary, and the subject could not have been better chosen. It is no coincidence that today's agenda started with the Commission working paper. The President of the Commission underlined how important the work programme is for this term of the Commission. Mr Frattini took the lead by explaining the priority we attach to criminal matters and justice. And now it is for me as Competition Commissioner to explain our position on what is in Mr Jonathan Evans' report.

I welcome the support of the European Parliament, and I acknowledge the support you have given in the past to the European Commission, and especially to Mr Monti, as you rightly emphasise. There is no doubt that I have inherited a great legacy from Mr Monti. The greatest tribute I can pay him is to continue his work and build on it.

Under the leadership of President Barroso, the European Commission has recently proposed a new partnership for growth and jobs. Competition policy, as Mr Evans rightly mentioned, has a crucial role to play here. Competition is the central driving-force for competitiveness and growth, and we badly need that growth. That was clearly stated this afternoon by speakers from both right and left. If we are to deliver on the fundamental social and environmental objectives which are at the heart of our European values, then economic growth is a must.

There are three ways competition policy can contribute to partnership.

Firstly, later this spring we will launch a debate on reviewing the state aid rules within the overall objective of 'less and better', which here means better focused aid. Aid should be concentrated where it can add most value: for innovation, research and development, risk capital and the development of those regions lagging furthest behind.

Secondly, we will maintain a fair and firm approach to enforcement and will remain tough on cartels. There is no doubt about that. That was also Mr Monti's approach. As the report highlights, it is not acceptable to let the global advantages of the single market be undermined by cartels and other unfair business practices among a handful of undertakings.

Thirdly, we will look at new ways of promoting competition in the internal market, by using sector investigations and competition screening to uncover and tackle the remaining, often hidden, regulatory and private barriers to free competition.

In taking these priorities forward, I will take account of the helpful observations presented in the report before us. I can assure you of my commitment to ensuring an ongoing and constructive dialogue on competition issues with this House.


  Hökmark (PPE-DE), för gruppen. Herr talman! Först av allt vill jag be att få uttrycka min uppskattning för Jonathan Evans betänkande och dess slutsatser. Jag vill också uttrycka min uppskattning för det bidrag som Neelie Kroes har lämnat och understryka att jag tillhör dem som med stor förväntan ser fram emot de ytterligare insatser som hon kan bidra med.

Jag tror att vi skall vara medvetna om att det som just nu är den drivande kraften i Europeiska unionen, i arbetet med att utveckla och modernisera vårt samhälle, är konkurrensen. Vi har det yttre konkurrenstrycket som följer av globaliseringen och det inre konkurrenstrycket som har blivit förstärkt av utvidgningen och den inre marknaden. Det frigör en mängd dynamik och kraft i det europeiska samhället, inte bara när det gäller utveckling, tillväxt och nya jobb. Jag tror också att detta i praktiken är det kraftfullaste verktyget för den europeiska integrationen när det gäller idéers, varors och tjänsters spridning över gränserna. Det är detta som just nu pågår, och jag tror att det finns en risk för att vi underskattar det. Jag skulle därför vilja be kommissionären att i kommande konkurrensrapporter försöka lyfta in även denna dimension av vad konkurrensen ger. Det är inte bara ekonomi utan det är också europeiskt samarbete i dess mest konkreta mening.

Jag menar att vi har en uppgift att sprida konkurrensens förutsättningar till nya områden. Det gäller kunskapssamhället med forskning, utbildning, sjukvård. Det gäller energi- och telemarknader, som Jonathan Evans påpekar i sitt betänkande. Jag skulle också för kommissionären vilja understryka den del i betänkandet som handlar om vikten av att också skapa goda förutsättningar för europeiska företagare att konkurrera globalt, att man vid konkurrensbedömningar skall se till hela den inre marknaden och inte till nationella och lokala delmarknader. Framtidens företag kommer att kräva en hemmamarknad som är stor. Det är det den inre marknaden skall vara till för och det är så konkurrensen skall utvecklas.


  Ferreira, Elisa (PSE), em nome do Grupo. Senhor Presidente, Senhora Comissária Neelie Kroes, a proposta de relatório de Jonathan Evans não mereceu discordâncias de fundo. Começo por agradecer ao relator o espírito de cooperação que permitiu o consenso sobre a quase totalidade das emendas que propus enquanto relatora-sombra e em nome do Partido dos Socialistas Europeus.

Com estas emendas ficou mais claro um conjunto de aspectos, nomeadamente que a competitividade é essencial para promover o crescimento da Europa. Mas é apenas um dos objectivos da Estratégia de Lisboa, tão importante como a coesão e o ambiente. Depois, que importa clarificar a relação entre a política de concorrência e as ajudas de Estado. Em terceiro lugar, que importa clarificar as regras nos acordos de transferências de tecnologia e auxílios à investigação e desenvolvimento, sobretudo quando estão em causa pequenas e médias empresas. Em quarto lugar, que importa clarificar a articulação dos instrumentos financeiros ligados ao Protocolo de Quioto com impacto ao nível das empresas com a política de concorrência. Em quinto lugar, que é essencial a rápida adaptação dos novos Estados-Membros à política de concorrência. Em sexto lugar, que é bem-vinda uma articulação estreita entre a política de concorrência e a política de comércio internacional, quer a nível multilateral, no quadro da Organização Mundial do Comércio, quer a nível bilateral com os principais parceiros, incluindo a China.

Estas são algumas das propostas que foram aceites. Sobre duas propostas de emenda não foi possível o consenso. Uma delas será apresentada por Katerina Batzeli, a outra diz respeito à frase em que o relator propõe, e passo a citar "que o Parlamento expresse a sua preocupação pelo insucesso reiterado do processo de liberalização completa dos mercados de gás e electricidade".

A liberalização, penso, não é um objectivo em si mesmo. Ela é um meio para que neste, como noutros casos de bens essenciais, cheguem nas melhores condições de preço e qualidade e com carácter universal aos consumidores, porque, antes de tudo, esses consumidores são cidadãos. A liberalização terá de ocorrer num quadro em que o carácter de bem público do gás e da electricidade sejam garantidos. É este o sentido da emenda que tive ocasião de propor.

Importa lembrar hoje, talvez mais do que nunca, que o projecto da União Europeia é político, embora de base económica. Se a supremacia do mercado gerar processos de exclusão duradoura de cidadãos relativamente aos seus direitos fundamentais ...

(O Presidente retira a palavra ao orador)


  Μανωλάκου (GUE/NGL), εξ ονόματος της ομάδας. Κύριε Πρόεδρε, ο τίτλος "Κρατικές ενισχύσεις για παροχή δημόσιας υπηρεσίας" είναι ψευδεπίγραφος αφού πρόκειται για ενίσχυση επιχειρήσεων. Όσο υπήρχαν τα κρατικά μονοπώλια στις δημόσιες υπηρεσίες εξυπηρετούσαν κατά κύριο λόγο τα συμφέροντα της πλουτοκρατίας. Αλλά και σήμερα, στα πλαίσια των καπιταλιστικών αναδιαρθρώσεων, οι περισσότερες δημόσιες υπηρεσίες δόθηκαν, όπως και άλλες πρόκειται να δοθούν στο ιδιωτικό κεφάλαιο, ώστε και μέσα από αυτή τη μορφή να ενισχυθεί η κερδοφορία του. Συνεπώς, σαν κύριο κριτήριο από την Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση για την κρατική ενίσχυση δεν είναι το να καλύπτονται λαϊκές ανάγκες και να επιλύονται λαϊκά προβλήματα αλλά, με την έγκρισή της, το να μη ζημιώνεται σε καμιά περίπτωση το κεφάλαιο και να μην υπάρχουν επιπτώσεις στη κερδοφορία του.

Εξάλλου, η πρόταση της Επιτροπής βρίσκεται στα πλαίσια των καπιταλιστικών αναδιαρθρώσεων που προωθεί το άνοιγμα των αγορών όπου το κεφάλαιο θα αποκομίσει και νέα κέρδη ενώ οι πτυχές της πρότασης για εξαίρεση έγκρισης κρατικής επιχορήγησης από την Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση για μικρές υπηρεσίες γενικού ενδιαφέροντος, αεροπορικές και ναυτιλιακές εταιρείες, είναι ασήμαντες. Δεν ικανοποιούν σε καμιά περίπτωση τις αυξανόμενες λαϊκές ανάγκες και, για τον λόγο αυτό, οι ευρωβουλευτές του ΚΚΕ θα καταψηφίσουμε.


  Whittaker (IND/DEM), on behalf of the Group. Mr President, we all recognise that there is a case for promoting competition in the interests of economic efficiency and Mrs Kroes has promised to continue the work of her predecessor in routing out unfair state aid and cartels wherever she can find them.

I want to suggest how she could do much better than this. Our rapporteur Mr Evans notes that the competitiveness of European business is one of the key objectives of the Lisbon Agenda. Unfortunately, too often competitiveness in the EU is too often taken to mean that every nation and every company has to suffer under the same regulatory burden or the same 'level playing field'. This is not really the same as competition. Dare I extend Mr Hökmark's remarks and suggest that if the Commission is truly interested in promoting competition it should include regulatory competition.

This would be a much richer source of efficiency. Give nations some freedom to determine their own agricultural policies and to decide for themselves how they want to ensure their own health and safety. Allow nations to set their own rules over everything that is not directly concerned with trade or other matters of common interest. A radical suggestion maybe, but it would allow competition from the more lightly regulated economies to provide the spur for lighter regulation elsewhere and we shall all prosper.

For those EU regions that are struggling to converge, relief from over-regulation would surely do much more good than any amount of handouts from the diminishing pool of Structural and Cohesion Funds. Mr Barroso has made some cautious remarks about easing regulation but I fear it is unlikely to occur. If meaningful deregulation could be achieved then all the sorrow about the failure of the Lisbon Agenda could be turned to rejoicing as EU economies really begin to move out of the sick bay.


  Rutowicz (NI). Dziękuję, Panie Przewodniczący. Spójność działań w zakresie polityki konkurencji jest podstawą działań rynku towarów i usług. Sprawozdanie za rok 2003 wykazuje duży postęp w tym zakresie oraz występujące braki. Przystąpienie do Unii 10 nowych państw o zróżnicowanych regulacjach prawnych w zakresie konkurencyjności stwarza nowe wyzwania. Wymienię tu kilka problemów.

W szeregu krajów rynek niektórych usług został przejęty przez stowarzyszenia lub organizacje zawodowe, tworzące bariery ograniczające konkurencyjność. Następnie, o ile zachodzi konieczność wsparcia finansowego usług publicznych czy produkcji, muszą być określone w dyrektywie warunki jego otrzymania, by wsparcie nie zmieniało się w stałe dotacje, będące wrogiem konkurencyjności. Następna uwaga: w usługach publicznych na poziomie miast czy gmin należy określić warunki pozwalające na odejście od pełnych wymogów konkurencyjności, o ile zapewni to lepsze rozwiązanie miejscowych problemów. Dziękuję.


  Schwab (PPE-DE). Herr Präsident, Frau Kommissarin, liebe Kolleginnen und Kollegen! Die Wettbewerbspolitik ist eine der Kernaufgaben der Europäischen Kommission im Bereich des Binnenmarktes. Wenn wir die Diskussion von vor einigen Stunden zum Vergleich nehmen, müssen wir feststellen, dass die Europäische Union im Bereich der Wettbewerbspolitik tatsächlich ein global player ist und Sie, liebe Frau Kroes, sind die Vertreterin für diese Arbeit, denn der Bericht der hier vorgelegt wurde und diskutiert wird, beruht ja auf der Arbeit der letzten Kommission. Ihnen wünsche ich in dieser Beziehung eine erfolgreiche Hand.

Die erfolgreiche Arbeit der Kommission hat seit Bestehen der Europäischen Gemeinschaften entscheidend dazu beigetragen, dass der Europäische Markt, von fairem Wettbewerb geprägt war, der allen Bürgerinnen und Bürgern Vorteile, d.h. Qualität und günstige Preise, beschert hat.

In diesem Kontext bewertet auch der vorliegende Bericht meines geschätzten Kollegen Evans die Arbeit der Wettbewerbsabteilung der Kommission im Jahr 2003. Die Entscheidungen in diesem Zeitraum sind allerdings noch unter der Verantwortung der alten Kommission getroffen worden. Deswegen geht es bei der Diskussion jetzt darum, im Rahmen des vorliegenden Berichts die umfangreichen Veränderungen im Europäischen Wettbewerbsrecht und in der europäischen Kommission auf ihre Wirksamkeit in den kommenden Jahren zu prüfen und zu bewerten.

Die Veränderungen, die da vorgenommen würden, sind sicherlich grundsätzlich geeignet, das hohe Niveau der europäischen Wettbewerbspolitik zu erhalten. Wie ich in meiner Anfrage bereits angedeutet habe, glaube ich jedoch, dass es einige Punkte gibt, in denen eine Nachbesserung sinnvoll wäre. Dies betrifft zum einen den Schutz der Kronzeugen im Wettbewerbsrecht, und zwar europaweit, die rechtliche Qualität der Netzwerkbekanntmachung und die Sicherstellung des Schutzes vor Doppelahndung im Kartellrecht.

Ungeachtet dieser Anliegen bietet aber der vorliegende Bericht eine hervorragende Grundlage dafür, die Arbeit in der kommenden Zeit in gewohnt erfolgreicher Weise fortzusetzen. Ich wünsche Ihnen bei den Entscheidungen, die Sie in den nächsten Monaten zu treffen haben, ein glückliches Händchen, damit diese Entscheidungen gerichtsfest sind. Auch wünsche ich Ihnen, dass Sie nach wie vor, wie dies die alte Kommission getan hat, Ihre Entscheidungen im Interesse der Bürgerinnen und Bürger treffen können. Denn eines ist das Wichtigste in der Wettbewerbspolitik: Vertrauen und Autorität. Beides wünsche ich Ihnen.


  Μπατζελή (PSE). Κύριε Πρόεδρε, είναι ιδιαιτέρως θετικό ότι η Επιτροπή στις αναφορές της για τις τομεακές εξελίξεις τονίζει μεταξύ των άλλων και την αναγκαιότητα επιπλέον κοινοτικών προσπαθειών και στον τομέα των μέσων μαζικής ενημέρωσης ώστε η απελευθέρωσή τους να εξασφαλίσει την πολυφωνία και την οικονομική ανάπτυξη.

Κυρία Επίτροπε, κύριε εισηγητά, κύριε Evans, θέλω πραγματικά να σας συγχαρώ προσωπικά για το έργο σας και συγκεκριμένα για την εργασία σας στην έκθεση αυτή. Θα ήθελα στο σημείο αυτό να σας επισημάνω ότι, λόγω της πολιτιστικής ιδιομορφίας του οπτικοακουστικού τομέα, πράγμα που σημαίνει ότι ο τομέας αυτός δεν πρέπει να αντιμετωπίζεται ως ένας συνήθης βιομηχανικός κλάδος, η Επιτροπή πρέπει να αποσαφηνίσει τον ρόλο που διαδραματίζουν οι κύριοι μέτοχοι με βάση την πολιτική ανταγωνισμού. Θεωρείτε ότι είναι σημαντικό για την Επιτροπή να επιβάλει τον πλουραλισμό στα μέσα επικοινωνίας, τόσο σε εθνικό όσο και σε κοινοτικό επίπεδο, διασφαλίζοντας πάντα την ελεύθερη συμμετοχή όλων στον τομέα των οπτικοακουστικών μέσων.

Κυρία Επίτροπε, εφόσον η Επιτροπή τονίζει ότι οι κανόνες ανταγωνισμού, το αναφέρετε στην έκθεσή σας, είναι εκείνοι επί των οποίων θα βασιστεί η επίλυση των προβλημάτων που απορρέουν από τη δημιουργία ή την ενίσχυση της δεσπόζουσας θέσης στην αγορά για την αντιμετώπιση των συμφωνιών προτεραιότητας, πρόκειται να εγκριθεί μία πολιτική στην οποία οι περιορισμοί επί του βασικού μετόχου θα αποτελέσουν ανασταλτικό παράγοντα για την πολιτική ανταγωνισμού των μέσων μαζικής ενημέρωσης; Θα ήθελα να λάβουμε μία απάντηση για να μπορέσει ενδεχομένως και ο εισηγητής μας, ο κ. Evans, να δεχθεί την τροπολογία που κατέθεσε η σοσιαλιστική ομάδα.


  Kroes, Member of the Commission. Mr President, I would like to thank those who gave me positive feedback. I also listened, of course, to those who were more critical. Mr Evans' support for the idea and the faith expressed in his report was a great start.

I set out my own philosophy in my recent speeches at Bocconi and at the OECD in Paris, where all those national authorities from around the world that are active in the competition field were gathered. Those speeches and this report show, I think, that we are on the same track. We are all aware that competition is the instrument for getting our economy in better shape, something that we badly need in Europe. We have both a lack of economic growth and a lack of productivity. We badly need economic growth because we have environmental and social welfare objectives that we rightly believe are essential within our culture.

I found the remarks that honourable Members have made very interesting and stimulating. They mark the start of our dialogue. As I mentioned before, I would be delighted to be invited to EMAC to discuss this item.

Concerning competition in technology transfer, there is indeed a way of developing this within our competition policy. It is not a separate item, it is all combined in one policy.

Regarding Mr Rutowicz's question about a market definition in merger cases, the Commission welcomes, and indeed promotes greater integration of markets. There is no doubt about that. As markets integrate, the relevant anti-trust markets will also become wider. However, for the time being many markets remain national or regional and this must be reflected in competition analysis, including market definition, so that competition and consumers do not suffer.

Mrs Elisa Ferreira asked about gas and electricity liberalisation. I agree that it is important to improve the functioning of the energy market.

In close cooperation with our energy colleagues, we are investigating the current status of the market. We are investigating the conduct of incumbents in certain markets and plan to carry out sector inquiries. The sector inquires will provide important input as to how the markets function and how they can be improved.

It is important to differentiate between preferences for liberalisation. I could not agree more about having a positive attitude towards liberalisation. However, in some cases where liberalisation has taken place there are still activities within that market that we do not accept. When that happens, one should not say 'I am against liberalisation'. We have a duty to find out what the actual situation is and who is not acting properly and not meeting our expectations.

Mr Rutowicz made a couple of remarks with regard to state aid reform. The conclusion of the Prodi Commission, later repeated by the European Council, was that there should be less aid but better aid. In addition, it was concluded that with enlargement we had a further reason for less and better aid for those areas that had already enjoyed the benefit of such aid. We now have to realise that within the ten new Member States there is a new territory which we have to improve, where aid could be of great help.

With better focus and a better use of tax-payers' money we can concentrate aid where it really generates the greatest value; where it contributes to cohesion; where it boosts innovation, research and development, and risk capital so that small- and medium-sized companies can also play a positive role as an engine of innovation in stimulating the economy. We need to ensure that they have access to risk capital because they need to take their ideas forward. Better focused state aid means better economic results and governance and ultimately, better and more secure jobs and better use of tax-payers' money. In early spring we will have a chance to present the action plan on state aid reform. That action plan will include measures to rationalise the state aid framework.

I want to reduce a lot of the red tape, a lot of the bureaucracy and I think that notification requirements for straightforward low impact aid should be one of those items we can get rid of, thus focussing resources on checking the more problematic high-impact subsidies.

Mrs Ferreira said that the title was misleading. I think that the title of the report just covers what we are really focusing on.

Another question was about audiovisuals. Maintaining and developing media pluralism is a basic public goal of the European Union, together with the preservation of cultural diversity and freedom of access for the Union citizen to all kinds of media platforms.

The application of competition policy instruments in the media sector is limited to addressing the underlying market structure and economic impact of media undertakings' behaviour. Nevertheless competition policy can and does make an essential contribution to the maintenance and development of media pluralism both in traditional television and other broadcasting markets and the new media.

Mr Schwab underlined that the European Union is a global player and that therefore it is essential to look at the price, at the quality, and also at the research possibilities to fall in line with our global competitors. It would be a good idea, to focus especially on increasing efficiency and transparency and to work towards a less bureaucratic one-stop shop for leniency applications. This will be explained in the new paper I am preparing which will also support greater efficiency and transparency.

I have tried to answer the questions that were raised. Again, thanks for the opportunity and thanks again to Mr Evans and all those who have been involved in the preparation of this report. Today's debate is just the start. It is very important to continue the discussion and to feel that you are on the same track as us in the Commission.


  Der Präsident. Die Aussprache ist geschlossen.

Die Abstimmung findet morgen um 12.00 Uhr statt.

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