On 22 June 2012, Almunia, Vice President of the European Commission responsible for Competition Policy gave a speech on competition policy in times of restructuring. He considered the challenges that the EU has been facing over the past weeks and months and how these challenges are shaped by the urgent need for economic restructuring and growth in Europe, the rapid globalisation of economic activity, and the fast evolving technological environment. He began his speech by emphasising the fundamental premise of competition policy: markets produce the best economic outcome in terms of quality, price and innovation by having a customer-driven process of selection. He discussed the State aid modernisation initiative; the main objectives being to help governments spend more wisely to aid recovery, boost growth, keep priorities in order, and mitigate the social effects of the crisis. He stressed the importance of competition policy being enforced to make sure that the fittest companies which serve the economy better are the ones to survive, in particular, the Commission has focused on attempts to distort competition in the energy, telecommunication and transport sectors, and will continue to do so. The Commission is also currently investigating abuses by investment banks, market-information providers and payment systems. He discussed the EU’s merger control regime and said that the Commission take productive efficiencies into account but cannot accept efficiencies where benefits are kept as private profits and not transmitted to the economy in terms of pricing or innovation. In terms of innovation, he also considered the importance of looking at IP rights and ensuring standardisation processes are not being used by players to exclude competitors. At the end, he discussed how the Commission must work at a simplification exercise to simplify procedures and shorten certain procedures (such as pre-notification). Read more.
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Restructuring speech: speech by Joaquín Almunia on competition policy in times of restructuring
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