European Business Leaders call for an EU Competition Policy fit for the global stage
BRUSSELS, 07 October 2019 – 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.
In its paper ‘Competing at Scale: EU Competition Policy fit for the Global Stage’, the European Round Table of Industrialists (ERT) affirms its belief in European competition policy to secure fairer markets, strong competition and protect the interests of EU consumers. The rapid digitisation of most sectors of the economy and the increasing dominance of giants from China and the US however also provide evidence of the need for reflection and change.
Regarding recent proposals that certain merger control decisions taken by European Commission should be reviewed by the Council, ERT is not convinced that such a development or greater political involvement in competition decision-making would be positive.
ERT, a group of 55 CEOs and Chairs of major European businesses, collectively responsible for around five million jobs globally as well as supporting many millions more, have set out four key policy recommendations to ensure that EU competition policy remains fit for purpose in the modern digitised and global markets. These are:
- 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 from April this year 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.