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Policy area
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Date

Impact of state aid on competition and competitiveness during the COVID-19 pandemic: an early assessment

17-12-2020

This economic assessment of EU state aid principles and practises related to the COVID-19 pandemic confirms the clear focus on maintaining the level playing field in the EU single market. Future monitoring and policy fine-tuning, focusing on SMEs, and keeping all Member States involved are the main challenges. Moreover, current policies fail to incorporate a strong focus on broader, strategic policy goals like the green and digital transformation of the European economy or the enhancing of EU firms ...

This economic assessment of EU state aid principles and practises related to the COVID-19 pandemic confirms the clear focus on maintaining the level playing field in the EU single market. Future monitoring and policy fine-tuning, focusing on SMEs, and keeping all Member States involved are the main challenges. Moreover, current policies fail to incorporate a strong focus on broader, strategic policy goals like the green and digital transformation of the European economy or the enhancing of EU firms’ global competitiveness. This document was prepared by the Policy Department for Economic, Scientific and Quality of Life Policies at the request of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON).

External author

Jan VAN HOVE

Study presentation proceedings: The Impact of Unfair Commercial Practices on Competition in the EU Passenger Transport Sector, in particular Air Transport

09-12-2020

The study presented in the event aims at identifying and analysing the unfair commercial and trading practices in passenger air transport that not only are detrimental to consumers, but which can also distort competition in the Single Market. Moreover, the discussion during the event also covered competition and consumer protection aspects that arise in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. These proceedings of the study presentation were prepared by the Policy Department for Economic, Scientific ...

The study presented in the event aims at identifying and analysing the unfair commercial and trading practices in passenger air transport that not only are detrimental to consumers, but which can also distort competition in the Single Market. Moreover, the discussion during the event also covered competition and consumer protection aspects that arise in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. These proceedings of the study presentation were prepared by the Policy Department for Economic, Scientific and Quality of Life Policies at the request the committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON).

Regulating digital gatekeepers: Background on the future digital markets act

08-12-2020

The EU has unveiled an ambitious plan to regulate online platforms, and the European Commission is proposing to introduce ex ante regulation to ensure that markets characterised by large platforms acting as digital gatekeepers remain fair and competitive for innovators, businesses, and new market entrants. The introduction of an ex ante regulatory framework that could limit online platforms' commercial freedom and give wide-ranging enforcement powers to regulators would be a far-reaching step. Against ...

The EU has unveiled an ambitious plan to regulate online platforms, and the European Commission is proposing to introduce ex ante regulation to ensure that markets characterised by large platforms acting as digital gatekeepers remain fair and competitive for innovators, businesses, and new market entrants. The introduction of an ex ante regulatory framework that could limit online platforms' commercial freedom and give wide-ranging enforcement powers to regulators would be a far-reaching step. Against this background, this briefing explains the rationale for regulating digital gatekeepers in the EU and provides an overview of the key policy questions currently under discussion. Recent reports and studies have shown how a few large platforms have the ability to apply a range of practices that raise significant competition issues. The limitation of competition law – essentially applied ex-post after the anti-competitive practices have been implemented – has sparked a debate on whether EU competition rules are still fit for purpose and whether such platforms should not instead be regulated ex ante so as to provide upfront clarity about what behaviour towards users and competitors is acceptable. In this respect, the policy discussion focuses on a number of issues, in particular, how to identify online gatekeepers that should be subject to ex ante regulation, what conduct should be outlawed for those gatekeepers, what obligations should be placed on them (such as data portability and interoperability), and how such innovative regulations should be enforced. Finally, the briefing highlights the initial views of a number of stakeholders.

Roadmap for Reallocation: A critical assessment of the Green Deal’s growth, financing and regulatory challenges

15-04-2020

The aim of this study is to critically assess the proposed Green Deal’s growth, financing and regulatory challenges. The study discusses the need for extended Shared Socio-economic Pathways. It examines the key growth drivers of the Green Deal and the green investment gap, the optimal mix of taxation and command-and-control measures, trade and competition policy and the implications for macroprudential supervision. This document was provided by Policy Department A at the request of the Committee ...

The aim of this study is to critically assess the proposed Green Deal’s growth, financing and regulatory challenges. The study discusses the need for extended Shared Socio-economic Pathways. It examines the key growth drivers of the Green Deal and the green investment gap, the optimal mix of taxation and command-and-control measures, trade and competition policy and the implications for macroprudential supervision. This document was provided by Policy Department A at the request of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs.

External author

Karel Volckaert

Annual report on EU competition policy

04-03-2020

During the March I plenary part-session, the European Parliament is expected to discuss the annual report on EU competition policy (2019), adopted by the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs. The report highlights the growing importance of the international dimension of competition policy in a globalised world and the challenges stemming from the digitalisation of the economy. It also points to issues related to the effectiveness of competition policy instruments, as well as how they may support ...

During the March I plenary part-session, the European Parliament is expected to discuss the annual report on EU competition policy (2019), adopted by the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs. The report highlights the growing importance of the international dimension of competition policy in a globalised world and the challenges stemming from the digitalisation of the economy. It also points to issues related to the effectiveness of competition policy instruments, as well as how they may support the European Green Deal.

Competition in the EU and globally [What Think Tanks are Thinking]

14-02-2020

The digital revolution, global trade disputes and low growth in the European economy have, among other factors, revived the debate about the merits and drawbacks of the European Union’s strict competition rules, which cover cartels, market dominance, mergers and state aid. Some politicians and economists argue that competition is an increasingly global phenomenon and that the intra-Community trade context for which the EU competition rules were originally designed no longer applies, and that the ...

The digital revolution, global trade disputes and low growth in the European economy have, among other factors, revived the debate about the merits and drawbacks of the European Union’s strict competition rules, which cover cartels, market dominance, mergers and state aid. Some politicians and economists argue that competition is an increasingly global phenomenon and that the intra-Community trade context for which the EU competition rules were originally designed no longer applies, and that the rules themselves are, as a result, too prescriptive. This emerging view might encourage the Union to pursue a more active and coordinated EU industrial policy, supported by more flexible rules on state aid and mergers in particular. The debate comes at a time when the US–China trade conflict and problems in the World Trade Organization are reshaping global economic competition, with new relationships and partnerships being formed. This note offers links to recent commentaries, studies and reports from international think tanks on the EU’s competition and industrial policy challenges and on the changing nature of global competition. More studies on trade issues can be found in a previous item from this series, published in September 2019.

Is data the new oil? Competition issues in the digital economy

08-01-2020

The global debate on the extent to which current competition policy rules are sufficient to deal with the fast-moving digital economy has never been more pertinent. An important part of this debate concerns the market power of large high-tech companies that dominate many online markets. The main factors behind these developments are economies of scale and scope, network externalities, and the rising economic significance of data, which are a highly valuable commodity in an online economy. While being ...

The global debate on the extent to which current competition policy rules are sufficient to deal with the fast-moving digital economy has never been more pertinent. An important part of this debate concerns the market power of large high-tech companies that dominate many online markets. The main factors behind these developments are economies of scale and scope, network externalities, and the rising economic significance of data, which are a highly valuable commodity in an online economy. While being indispensable to the development of potential game changers – such as artificial intelligence – data are also a crucial input to many online services, production processes, and logistics – making it a critical element in the value chain of many different industries. Data-dependent markets are also characterised by a high level of concentration and, according to many experts, high entry barriers relating to access to and ownership of data – which make it difficult to challenge the incumbent companies. On the other hand, the large players are generally considered to be very productive and innovative. Some studies, however, show that the diffusion of know-how and innovation between the market leaders and the rest of the economy may be affecting competiveness in general. One possible way to correct these shortcomings is to regulate the sharing of data. While the risks of policy-making in this field are generally well-known and centre around the need to protect privacy – particularly where personal data are involved – and to prevent the collusive aspects of data sharing, there is currently no global model to follow. The European Union has taken multiple initiatives to unlock data markets through modern, user-centred laws such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the regulation on the reuse of public sector information. The global thinking seems to gradually favour more prudent oversight of the market, considering its economic heft.

Enhancing EU competitiveness [What Think Tanks are thinking]

13-12-2019

The European Union has been established as an area of security, stability and prosperity, in which economic competitiveness plays a key role. Although in terms of productivity some EU countries are doing well, compared to, for example, the United States, the EU is lagging behind some other world regions in reaping the fruits of the digital revolution. Analysts also point to the need to continue euro-area governance reforms, completing the Banking Union and pushing ahead with the creation of the Capital ...

The European Union has been established as an area of security, stability and prosperity, in which economic competitiveness plays a key role. Although in terms of productivity some EU countries are doing well, compared to, for example, the United States, the EU is lagging behind some other world regions in reaping the fruits of the digital revolution. Analysts also point to the need to continue euro-area governance reforms, completing the Banking Union and pushing ahead with the creation of the Capital Markets Union. A debate continues about whether the EU should support the creation of EU industrial champions, which advocates claim could be well placed to compete internationally in some sectors. This note brings together commentaries, analyses and studies by international think tanks and research institutes on EU competitiveness and related issues. Earlier papers on reforming the euro area are available in a previous issue from the series, published in December 2019.

EU competition policy: Key to a fair single market

30-10-2019

Competition policy has been found to make a positive contribution to the EU's economic growth and the EU has one of the most robust competition policy systems in the world. European competition policy encompasses many fields, not least antitrust measures, merger control and State aid. It is enforced by the European Commission, whose decisions can be contested in the Court of Justice of the European Union. Recent policy developments include the antitrust damages system and the framework empowering ...

Competition policy has been found to make a positive contribution to the EU's economic growth and the EU has one of the most robust competition policy systems in the world. European competition policy encompasses many fields, not least antitrust measures, merger control and State aid. It is enforced by the European Commission, whose decisions can be contested in the Court of Justice of the European Union. Recent policy developments include the antitrust damages system and the framework empowering national competition authorities. Topics discussed in this paper include the role of competition policy in the digital era, merger control, instruments such as the leniency programme, commitments and settlements, and the potential impact of current political developments.

Hearings of the Commissioners-designate: Margrethe Vestager – Vice-President: A Europe fit for the digital age

26-09-2019

This briefing is one in a set looking at the Commissioners-designate and their portfolios as put forward by Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen. Each candidate faces a three-hour public hearing, organised by one or more parliamentary committees. After that process, those committees will judge the candidates' suitability for the role based on 'their general competence, European commitment and personal independence', as well as their 'knowledge of their prospective portfolio and their communication ...

This briefing is one in a set looking at the Commissioners-designate and their portfolios as put forward by Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen. Each candidate faces a three-hour public hearing, organised by one or more parliamentary committees. After that process, those committees will judge the candidates' suitability for the role based on 'their general competence, European commitment and personal independence', as well as their 'knowledge of their prospective portfolio and their communication skills'. At the end of the hearings process, Parliament votes on the proposed Commission as a bloc, and under the Treaties may only reject the entire College of Commissioners, rather than individual candidates. The Briefing provides an overview of key issues in the portfolio areas, as well as Parliament's activity in the last term in that field. It also includes a brief introduction to the candidate.

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