EU to give more power to national antitrust authorities in a bid to secure regulatory fines

Press conference by Margrethe Vestager, member of the European Commission in charge of Competition, on the merger of Dow/DuPont. Date: 27/03/2017. Location: Brussels – EC/Berlaymont. © European Union, 2017 / Source: EC – Audiovisual Service / Photo: Jennifer Jacquemart.

Last week, the European Commission has proposed a new set of rules to give national antitrust authorities more power and resources against anti-competitive practices. The proposed rules, which followed a public consultation that was launched last year, are intended to make the bloc’s national competition agencies more autonomous but also more reactive against multinational firms over regulatory cases. Indeed the proposed rules would enlarge the national watchdogs’ operative range, ultimately allowing them access to mobile phones, laptops and tablets.

Background

Antitrust rules within the European Union are administrated by the Council Regulation 1/2003 since it came into force in May 2004, changing the previous notification system, under which companies notified agreements to the Commission for approval under the antitrust rules. After ten years, The Commission’s Communication on Ten Years of Council Regulation 1/2003 (COM (2014) 453) identified a number of potential areas of action to make the national competition authorities more effective enforcers, and opened the way to new discussions. By way of follow-up, the Commission carried out a public consultation between November 2015 and February 2016 and listed options for a series of action with both the national competition authorities and the Member State ministries.

More powers needed

Indeed last Wednesday’s move came as a result of those consultations, which found shortcomings in the local competition agencies’ equipment and in the way they were structured, preventing them from doing their work effectively. “It is vital that national competition authorities have all the powers they need to do their job as effectively as possible”, said Margrethe Vestager, Commissioner in charge of competition policy, last week in an official statement. “For the last two years, we’ve been discussing whether that is already the case. And the message that’s come back is that national competition authorities do need more complete powers, in order to give consumers the best possible protection from anticompetitive behaviours”, Commissioner Vestager declared.

Enlarged rights

The proposal indeed aims at ensuring that national agencies have enough practical resources to carry out their activity effectively, such as funding and staff, but also enough power to do so. A big theme around the proposed new rules is actually the enlargement of the operative range of the local watchdogs, and so the right to search mobile phones, laptops and tablets for evidence of wrongdoing. “Today’s proposal seeks to ensure that national competition authorities have legal guarantees of independence, as well as appropriate funding and staffing to do their job properly”, said Commissioner Vestager.

The Commission’s scope is to create a sort of “common competition enforcement area”, as well as provide the national competition authorities with a minimum common “toolkit” and effective enforcement powers. “[The proposal] is about the establishment of minimum guarantees and standards to empower national authorities to reach their full potential”, said Vestager. “Every national authority is different, of course. […] But these authorities face similar challenges. And that’s what today’s proposal aims to address”, she also said.

A way to monitor multinationals

Antitrust experts and many European media outlets are also convinced that the EU antitrust authority was also concerned about looser antitrust systems in some countries where multinational firms can easily avoid paying regulatory fines, especially where they do not have a legal presence. New planned rules on parent company liability and succession would indeed prevent companies from dodging fines via corporate restructuring, a common practice in many European states. “The rules we propose aim to ensure the imposition of fines that really deter law-breaking. And they will also make sure that companies cannot escape the payment of fines by restructuring and also that fines can be enforced against companies in other EU countries”, Commissioner Vestager said.

Powers and responsibilities

“Of course, with great power comes great responsibility. All competition authorities must use their authority appropriately, fully respecting companies’ rights of defence”, Commissioner Vestager also added, underlying what looks to be already the hottest theme for multinational companies in the proposed reform. “Companies have the right to know the case against them, and to have a chance to respond. Today’s proposal therefore emphasises the fact that competition authorities must respect these rights, in line with the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights”.

A study by the European Commission revealed that, from 2004 till 2014, over 85% of all the decisions that applied EU antitrust rules were taken by national competition authorities. The EC said that, since 2004, the Commission and national competition authorities have adopted over 1,000 decisions. The proposal will now need approval from EU member states and the European Parliament before it can become adopted. Once adopted, Member States have to transpose the provisions of the Directive into national law.

 

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

These are the fastest trains in the world

CHINA UNLIMITED. PEOPLE UNLIMITED. RESTRICTIONS LIMITED

On Brexit: the outcome of UK elections next May to be based on false promises?

Ministers for Youth miss the opportunity to improve social inclusion of young people

This is Amsterdam’s ambitious plan to turn its transport electric

Palestinian children’s education deeply impacted by ‘interference’ around West Bank schools, UN warns

EU-India summit: Will the EU manage to sign a free trade agreement with India before Britain?

Number of MEPs to be reduced after EU elections in 2019

Why Africa must be ready to take the quantum leap

VAT Gap: EU countries lost €137 billion in VAT revenues in 2017

Sign language protects ‘linguistic identity and cultural diversity’ of all users, says UN chief

Further reforms will move Slovakia toward a more innovative and inclusive society

Our food system is no longer fit for the 21st century. Here are three ways to fix it

UN chief calls for ‘far greater support’ for Cyclone Idai response

Northern Bahamas ravaged by ‘disaster of epic proportions’ as UN releases $1 million in emergency funds

ACP-EU Parliamentary Assembly: strengthening the partnership

Why Eurozone’s problems may end in a few months

Science is ‘key’ to pushing forward the 2030 Agenda, UN development forum told

Why we need a moderate approach to moderating online content

UN and Red Cross chiefs appeal for end to use of explosive weapons in cities

Promoting rule of law and fundamental rights in the EU

Cancer is a growing global threat and prevention is key, UN study shows

From a refugee camp to Davos: one Co-Chair’s story

ECB will be the catalyst of Eurozone’s reunification

General Assembly officially adopts roadmap for migrants to improve safety, ease suffering

WEF Davos 2016 LIVE: “If we do not do properly the Paris agreement, then all 16 remaining goals will be undermined”, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon cautions from Davos

These are the world’s best countries to retire in, as of 2019

Blockchain can change the face of renewable energy in Africa. Here’s how

Ceasefire holds in Tripoli, but core problems remain, says UN Libya mission chief

Medical workforce migration in Europe – Is it really a problem?

The Banking Union may lead to a Germanic Europe

‘No justification’ for attacks against civilians, UN envoy says on mounting cross-border violence in Gaza

Why education and accountability are important for developing countries?

What could a no-deal Brexit mean for developing countries?

Evidence shows ‘brutal’ killing of Saudi journalist ‘planned and perpetrated’ by State officials: UN independent expert

Amazon sinks while our breath sinks

Energy of African youth ‘propelling’ new development era as UN ties bear fruit

UN global counter-terrorism strategy review an ‘overarching vision for the future’: Assembly President

Brexit: No deal without marginalizing the hard Tory Eurosceptic MPs

A young European voice on Grexit: too high a bill and too big a deal!

Innovation is the key to the pay-TV industry’s long-term growth

Will Europe be able to deal with the migration crisis alone if Turkey quits the pact?

Ensure that widows are ‘not left out or left behind’, UN chief urges on International Day

UN chief welcomes re-opening of key Gaza border crossing

Press coverage of migration crisis in Europe: a call for collaborative action

The European Agenda on Migration: EU needs to sustain progress made over the past 4 years

Macron in St. Petersburg didn’t oppose Trump on Iran, in Putin’s presence

EU’s Mogherini visits Turkey “to step up engagement” and highlight interests

Sri Lanka PM: This is how I will make my country rich by 2025

Jo Cox’s murderer believed the ‘leave’ campaign leaders that the ‘remain’ vote is treason

It’s just electronic cigarette, don’t worry?

Cities are easy prey for cybercriminals. Here’s how they can fight back

End ‘shame, isolation and segregation’ of fistula sufferers, urges UN reproductive health chief

JADE Spring Meeting Live Coverage: Entrepreneurial skills in the digital markets

Assault on key Yemeni port would endanger 300,000 children and ‘choke off’ aid for millions more: UNICEF chief

“Is Europe innovative? Oh, Yes we are very innovative!”, Director General of the European Commission Mr Robert-Jan Smits on another Sting Exclusive

Civilian death toll continues to mount in Syria, UN relief chief tells Security Council

Yanukovych attempts a violent and deadly cleansing of Kiev’s center

Thursday’s Daily Brief: Press Freedom Day, Tuna Day, cultural dialogue, #GlobalGoals awards, updates on Syria, Somalia, Mali

‘Agile’, multilateral response vital to combat terrorism – UN chief Guterres

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s