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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.

Développer les compétences des États membres dans le domaine du droit commercial

14-09-2018

La présente étude, commandée par le département thématique des droits des citoyens et des affaires constitutionnelles à la demande de la commission des affaires juridiques (commission JURI), porte sur les contrats commerciaux internationaux ainsi que sur leur fonctionnement théorique et pratique. Elle décrit le cadre juridique dans lequel s’inscrivent ces contrats et analyse les pratiques commerciales actuelles concernant le choix de la loi applicable et le choix de la juridiction compétente. L’étude ...

La présente étude, commandée par le département thématique des droits des citoyens et des affaires constitutionnelles à la demande de la commission des affaires juridiques (commission JURI), porte sur les contrats commerciaux internationaux ainsi que sur leur fonctionnement théorique et pratique. Elle décrit le cadre juridique dans lequel s’inscrivent ces contrats et analyse les pratiques commerciales actuelles concernant le choix de la loi applicable et le choix de la juridiction compétente. L’étude conclut que les lois et les tribunaux de certains États sont davantage choisis que d’autres et propose d’adopter une série de mesures qui amélioreront le règlement des différends internationaux au sein de l’Union. Elle suggère entre autres d’introduire une procédure accélérée pour les affaires commerciales internationales et de créer des chambres ou des tribunaux spécialisés dans les questions commerciales internationales dans chacun des États membres. L’étude propose en outre d’instituer un tribunal de commerce européen.

Auteur externe

Prof. Dr. Giesela Ruhl

Recherche pour la commission AGRI - Nouvelles règles de concurrence pour la chaîne agro-alimentaire dans la PAC post 2020

14-09-2018

Dans le cadre de la prochaine réforme de la PAC post 2020, la Commission propose un nouveau règlement COM (2018)394 du 1er juin 2018 sur l’organisation commune de marché modifiant le règlement (UE) No 1308/2013 du 13 décembre 2013 (modifié par le règlement (UE) No 2017/2393 du 13 décembre 2017). Ce projet n’aborde cependant pas les questions relatives au rapport entre PAC et concurrence ; la proposition ne contient aucune disposition concernant les missions des organisations professionnelles et interprofessionnelles ...

Dans le cadre de la prochaine réforme de la PAC post 2020, la Commission propose un nouveau règlement COM (2018)394 du 1er juin 2018 sur l’organisation commune de marché modifiant le règlement (UE) No 1308/2013 du 13 décembre 2013 (modifié par le règlement (UE) No 2017/2393 du 13 décembre 2017). Ce projet n’aborde cependant pas les questions relatives au rapport entre PAC et concurrence ; la proposition ne contient aucune disposition concernant les missions des organisations professionnelles et interprofessionnelles et les conditions de leur éventuelle soumission aux règles de concurrence. Le récent règlement (UE) No 2017/2393 Omnibus a apporté des modifications au cadre légal d’application des règles de concurrence aux accords et pratiques des agriculteurs et de leurs associations. Ce nouveau cadre normatif n’est toutefois pas pleinement abouti et les avancées du texte méritent, à la lumière des de la décision de la Cour de justice rendue le 14 novembre 2017 dans l’affaire Endives, d’être consolidées et clarifiées afin de garantir une véritable effectivité de ces dispositions et une plus grande sécurité juridique aux opérateurs. Le rapport analyse l’évolution de la relation entre la PAC et le droit de la concurrence et met en évidence la nécessité d’apporter des correctifs à la législation agricole actuelle afin de garantir la primauté de la PAC sur les règles de concurrence et la réalisation des objectifs de l’article 39 du Traité.

Auteur externe

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.

Auteur externe

Professor Phedon Nicolaides

Interopérabilité des systèmes d’information européens dans le domaine de la justice et des affaires intérieures

12-04-2018

La présente étude a été commandée par le département thématique des droits des citoyens et des affaires constitutionnelles du Parlement européen à la demande de la commission des libertés civiles, de la justice et des affaires intérieures (commission LIBE) du Parlement européen. Elle examine essentiellement les propositions de règlement portant établissement d’un cadre pour l’interopérabilité des systèmes d’information dans le domaine de la justice et des affaires intérieures, présentées par la ...

La présente étude a été commandée par le département thématique des droits des citoyens et des affaires constitutionnelles du Parlement européen à la demande de la commission des libertés civiles, de la justice et des affaires intérieures (commission LIBE) du Parlement européen. Elle examine essentiellement les propositions de règlement portant établissement d’un cadre pour l’interopérabilité des systèmes d’information dans le domaine de la justice et des affaires intérieures, présentées par la Commission en décembre 2017. L’étude analyse tout d’abord la relation entre les systèmes d’information existants et proposés, puis examine les principaux éléments des propositions de la Commission, y compris le concept d’interopérabilité utilisé, la définition des problèmes, les objectifs et les propositions de solutions, ainsi que les conséquences sur le plan de la mise en oeuvre, des droits fondamentaux et de la protection des données.

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