Competing at Scale: EU Competition Policy fit for the Global Stage
For a new era of European business to succeed and thrive at scale in a fast-moving, increasingly digitised economy, policy makers should strive for competition policies fit for the global stage. Globally we are facing the emergence of digital markets without borders and an increasing level of protectionism from major players, skewing the global level playing field. Regulators must make sure that European firms have the right conditions to remain competitive on the global stage. This is crucial for the European economy, for jobs, and for consumers as well.
Leaders of some of Europe’s largest employers have today called for an EU competition policy which would allow European businesses to compete successfully at scale in today’s globalised and fast-moving economy.
Measures would include adopting a more dynamic approach to competition enforcement and taking a more holistic view to safeguard global competitiveness. These reforms would enable competition policy to operate under the demands of the modern, digital and often borderless economy.
The paper sets out four key policy recommendations to ensure that EU competition policy remains fit for purpose in the modern digitised and global markets:
- Align competition enforcement with the demands of the modern digitised economy: a more dynamic and pragmatic approach, which in particular takes into account non-price factors such as the role of data, innovation, quality, and choice, and the potential consumer benefits of inter-company relationships.
- Implement a smarter, leaner merger control regime: a broader and forward-looking substantive assessment, simplifying and shortening the merger control procedure, including by reducing the burden of information requests, improving checks and balances within the Directorate-General for Competition and implementing effective judicial review.
- Increase legal certainty for competitive collaboration: providing a more welcoming environment for pro-competitive business activities, ensuring a harmonised approach between the Commission and National Competition Authorities, and better guidance for firms, for example in the form of ‘comfort letters’.
- Adopt a holistic viewpoint to safeguard global competitiveness: the Commission must adopt a more comprehensive view of market practices and market power held by foreign state-owned or state-supported companies operating in Europe, and introduce more flexibility in state aid rules to enable research, especially in key strategic areas.
This intervention follows on from ERT’s ‘Strengthening Europe’s Place in the World’ policy paper which saw ERT Members commit to a series of pledges aimed at raising the prosperity of citizens and their trust in Europe’s capacity to deliver for them.
ERT Members have a commitment to a strong, inclusive and united Europe in which innovative industrial players, large and small, have a decisive role to play. The EU’s competition policy is an important pillar of a comprehensive industrial strategy for Europe. We welcome a review of Europe’s competition rules and are putting forward some proposals to deliver a competition policy for Europe that benefits consumers, while allowing European firms to compete on the global stage.