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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.

Public economic support in the EU: State aid and special economic zones

06-02-2020

State aid can be defined as an advantage given by a government that may provide a company with an unfair competitive edge over its commercial rivals. State aid can take several forms, such as public subsidies, tax relief, or the purchasing of goods and services on preferential terms. While the European Union (EU) competition rules consider State aid to be incompatible with the internal market, they allow such aid when it promotes general economic development, for example, when tackling the challenges ...

State aid can be defined as an advantage given by a government that may provide a company with an unfair competitive edge over its commercial rivals. State aid can take several forms, such as public subsidies, tax relief, or the purchasing of goods and services on preferential terms. While the European Union (EU) competition rules consider State aid to be incompatible with the internal market, they allow such aid when it promotes general economic development, for example, when tackling the challenges of global competition, the ongoing financial crisis, the digital revolution, and demographic change. To this end, all EU Member States provide some public economic support, for instance, to the coal mining sector, banks, or the digital economy. To contribute to regional development and to increase competitiveness, some Member States have created special economic zones (SEZs), which offer an attractive combination of tax-and-tariff incentives, streamlined customs procedures, less laws, provision of infrastructure, and creation of business clusters. The European Commission is currently evaluating the State aid modernisation (SAM) package and some of its related laws, as these will expire by the end of 2020. The European Parliament takes a two fold stance towards public economic support in the EU. On the one hand, Parliament stresses that State aid should support ecological transformation and foster the development of services, knowledge, and infrastructure rather than providing support to specific companies. On the other hand, it calls on the Commission to ensure that State aid is reduced in the long term, given its distortive effects on the internal market. While the temporary State aid offered to the financial sector to stabilise the EU financial system might have been necessary, Parliament calls on the Commission to scrutinise and eventually remove this aid. Parliament, inter alia, also calls on the Member States to abandon unfair competition practices based on unjustified tax incentives and to adopt appropriate rules in the Council.

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.

Commitments made at the hearing of Margrethe VESTAGER, Executive Vice-President-designate - Europe Fit for Digital Age

22-11-2019

The commissioner-designate, Margrethe Vestager, appeared before the European Parliament on 8 October 2019 to answer questions from MEPs in the Committees on Industry, Research and Energy, Internal Market and Consumer Protection and Economic and Monetary Affairs. During the hearing, she made a number of commitments which are highlighted in this document. These commitments refer to her portfolio, as described in the mission letter sent to her by Ursula von der Leyen, President-elect of the European ...

The commissioner-designate, Margrethe Vestager, appeared before the European Parliament on 8 October 2019 to answer questions from MEPs in the Committees on Industry, Research and Energy, Internal Market and Consumer Protection and Economic and Monetary Affairs. During the hearing, she made a number of commitments which are highlighted in this document. These commitments refer to her portfolio, as described in the mission letter sent to her by Ursula von der Leyen, President-elect of the European Commission and include a Europe fit for the digital age and competition.

EU Patent and Brexit

05-11-2019

This In-depth Analysis resumes the possible scenarios concerning several Intellectual Property provisions of EU and international law in the event of a withdrawal of the United Kingdom with or without a proper withdrawal agreement. It tries to clarify the question how Brexit may affect the entry into force of the new European Patent with Unitary effect (EPUE), especially, if the Unified Patent Court Agreement (UPCA) can enter into force, even in case the UK has withdrawn from the EU. What would be ...

This In-depth Analysis resumes the possible scenarios concerning several Intellectual Property provisions of EU and international law in the event of a withdrawal of the United Kingdom with or without a proper withdrawal agreement. It tries to clarify the question how Brexit may affect the entry into force of the new European Patent with Unitary effect (EPUE), especially, if the Unified Patent Court Agreement (UPCA) can enter into force, even in case the UK has withdrawn from the EU. What would be the necessary steps to be taken by the EU in order to ensure the functioning of the future European Unitary patent and in case the UPC Agreement would have to be revised because of Brexit.

Empowering national competition authorities (NCAs)

18-02-2019

Since 2003, national competition authorities (NCAs) have boosted the enforcement of EU competition and antitrust rules significantly. However, each year losses of €181-320 billion accrue because of undiscovered cartels, which increase prices by between 17 % and 30 % on average. In March 2017, the Commission proposed a new directive to ensure that all NCAs have effective investigation and decision-making tools, could impose deterrent fines, and have well-designed leniency programmes and enough resources ...

Since 2003, national competition authorities (NCAs) have boosted the enforcement of EU competition and antitrust rules significantly. However, each year losses of €181-320 billion accrue because of undiscovered cartels, which increase prices by between 17 % and 30 % on average. In March 2017, the Commission proposed a new directive to ensure that all NCAs have effective investigation and decision-making tools, could impose deterrent fines, and have well-designed leniency programmes and enough resources to enforce EU competition rules independently. On 30 May 2018, Parliament and Council reached an agreement on the proposal in trilogue. It increases the independence, resources and powers of NCAs and envisages more harmonisation of the national leniency programmes and reduced burdens on undertakings. Parliament adopted the text on 14 November 2018, the final act was signed on 11 December 2018. Third edition. The ‘EU Legislation in Progress’ briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

Aufbau wirtschaftsrechtlicher Kompetenz in den Mitgliedstaaten

14-09-2018

Die vorliegende Studie wurde vom Rechtsausschuss des Europäischen Parlaments (JURI) angefordert und von der Fachabteilung für Bürgerrechte und konstitutionelle Angelegenheiten des Europäischen Parlaments in Auftrag gegeben. Sie beleuchtet grenzüberschreitende Handelsverträge und deren Handhabung in Theorie und Praxis. In der Studie werden der rechtliche Rahmen beschrieben, in dem sich Handelsverträge bewegen, und die gängige unternehmerische Praxis in Bezug auf die Rechtswahl und die Wahl des Gerichtsstandorts ...

Die vorliegende Studie wurde vom Rechtsausschuss des Europäischen Parlaments (JURI) angefordert und von der Fachabteilung für Bürgerrechte und konstitutionelle Angelegenheiten des Europäischen Parlaments in Auftrag gegeben. Sie beleuchtet grenzüberschreitende Handelsverträge und deren Handhabung in Theorie und Praxis. In der Studie werden der rechtliche Rahmen beschrieben, in dem sich Handelsverträge bewegen, und die gängige unternehmerische Praxis in Bezug auf die Rechtswahl und die Wahl des Gerichtsstandorts untersucht. Aus der Studie geht hervor, dass die Rechtsordnungen und Gerichte einiger Staaten beliebter sind als andere, und in ihr wird vorgeschlagen, ein Bündel von Maßnahmen zu ergreifen, durch die sich die Beilegung internationaler Streitigkeiten in der EU verbessern lässt. So wird unter anderem vorgeschlagen, ein beschleunigtes Verfahren für grenzüberschreitende Handelsfälle einzuführen und in jedem Mitgliedstaat spezielle Gerichte oder Kammern für grenzüberschreitende Handelsfragen einzurichten. Darüber hinaus enthält die Studie den Vorschlag, ein Europäisches Handelsgericht einzurichten.

Externe Autor

Prof. Dr. Giesela Ruhl

Research for AGRI Committee – New competition rules for the agri-food chain in the CAP post 2020

14-09-2018

In connection with the next reform of the CAP post 2020, the Commission has proposed a new Regulation (COM(2018)394 of 1 June 2018) on the common market organisation, amending Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013 of 13 December 2013 (amended by Regulation (EU) No 2017/2393 of 13 December 2017). This draft regulation does not, however, cover questions on the relationship between the CAP and competition; the proposal does not contain any provisions concerning the responsibilities of professional and interbranch ...

In connection with the next reform of the CAP post 2020, the Commission has proposed a new Regulation (COM(2018)394 of 1 June 2018) on the common market organisation, amending Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013 of 13 December 2013 (amended by Regulation (EU) No 2017/2393 of 13 December 2017). This draft regulation does not, however, cover questions on the relationship between the CAP and competition; the proposal does not contain any provisions concerning the responsibilities of professional and interbranch organisations and the possible conditions of their submission to competition rules. The recent Omnibus Regulation (EU) No 2017/2393 has made changes to the legal framework for the application of competition rules to the agreements and practices of farmers and their associations. However, this new legislative framework is not yet entirely consistent and, in the light of the Court of Justice judgment handed down on 14 November 2017 in the Endive case, the progress ought to be consolidated and clarified in order to guarantee the real effectiveness of these provisions and greater legal certainty for operators. This study analyses the development of the relationship between the CAP and the competition rules and highlights the need to take corrective action with respect to current farming legislation to ensure that the CAP has primacy over the competition rules and the implementation of the objectives set out in Article 39 of the Treaty.

Externe Autor

C. Del Cont; A. Iannarelli

State Aid and EU funding: are they compatible?

16-04-2018

State aid involves the transfer of state resources. These are resources which are controlled by public authorities. EU funds which are granted directly to undertakings without coming under the control of a public authority of a Member State cannot be considered to be state resources. However, EU funds channelled through managing authorities become state resources and can constitute state aid if all the other criteria of Article 107(1) TFEU are satisfied.

State aid involves the transfer of state resources. These are resources which are controlled by public authorities. EU funds which are granted directly to undertakings without coming under the control of a public authority of a Member State cannot be considered to be state resources. However, EU funds channelled through managing authorities become state resources and can constitute state aid if all the other criteria of Article 107(1) TFEU are satisfied.

Externe Autor

Professor Phedon Nicolaides

Interoperabilität der Informationssysteme im Bereich Justiz und Inneres

12-04-2018

In dieser Studie, die von der Fachabteilung für Bürgerrechte und konstitutionelle Angelegenheiten des Europäischen Parlaments auf Ersuchen des Ausschusses für bürgerliche Freiheiten, Justiz und Inneres (LIBE-Ausschuss) des Europäischen Parlaments in Auftrag gegeben wurde, werden hauptsächlich die Vorschläge der Kommission vom Dezember 2017 für eine Verordnung zur Errichtung eines Rahmens für die Interoperabilität zwischen EU-Informationssystemen für Justiz und Inneres bewertet. Zunächst werden in ...

In dieser Studie, die von der Fachabteilung für Bürgerrechte und konstitutionelle Angelegenheiten des Europäischen Parlaments auf Ersuchen des Ausschusses für bürgerliche Freiheiten, Justiz und Inneres (LIBE-Ausschuss) des Europäischen Parlaments in Auftrag gegeben wurde, werden hauptsächlich die Vorschläge der Kommission vom Dezember 2017 für eine Verordnung zur Errichtung eines Rahmens für die Interoperabilität zwischen EU-Informationssystemen für Justiz und Inneres bewertet. Zunächst werden in der Studie die Beziehungen zwischen den Informationssystemen bei der aktuellen und der vorgeschlagenen Umsetzung analysiert. Anschließend werden zentrale Elemente in den Vorschlägen der Kommission bewertet, darunter auch der verwendete Interoperabilitätsbegriff, die Problembeschreibung, die Ziele und die vorgeschlagenen Lösungen sowie die Umsetzung und die Folgen für die Grundrechte und die Datensicherheit.

Externe Autor

Mirja GUTHEIL Quentin LIGER James EAGER Yemi OVIOSU Daniel BOGDANOVIC

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