Last week the European Parliament adopted its annual own-initiative report on EU competition policy by a large cross-party majority. With this report, the European Parliament takes a stand on current developments in competition policy and calls for a fundamental overhaul of EU competition policy for the first time.
The report was drafted by the Austrian Green rapporteur Michel Reimon. It focuses on, among other things, the consideration of sustainability factors in competition policy decisions. The report thus criticizes mergers and acquisitions such as those of Bayer and Monsanto and the associated high market concentration in food supply chains.
The report also calls for the possibility of cooperation between companies in a supply chain to introduce common fair trade standards. Other focal points include market power and taxation of the digital economy, state subsidies for nuclear power and fossil fuels, and the competition law implications of bailing out banks.
MEP Sven Giegold, financial and economic policy spokesperson of the Greens/EFA group commented:
“It is high time for a fundamental overhaul of EU competition policy. Mergers and acquisitions decisions must finally take account of their impact on areas such as consumer protection and climate change. Only considering the impact on consumer prices is insufficient to assess the effect of market power on people, nature and the economy. State subsidies for nuclear energy and fossil fuels must finally be stopped, because they distort competition. We call on the EU Commission to investigate whether the horizontal ownership of large investors such as Blackrock weakens competition. An ever greater concentration of the ownership of large investors is a threat to the economy. Smaller companies in one supply chain or industry should in future be able to cooperate to establish common green and fair labour standards more easily without coming into conflict with competition law. This would enable companies to work together to counter the downward competition for low social and environmental standards.”