On 13 February 2018, the Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) highlighted the key priorities it will pursue in 2018 and 2019. It will focus on the digital economy, making the energy market greener, prices of prescription drugs and competition in the port sector. Interested parties were invited to share their comments on the priorities and multiple statements online.

According to the ACM, the digital economy is fundamentally changing Dutch society. Online platforms, search engines, the Internet of Things and blockchain technology create opportunities for both businesses and consumers. However, digitalization also brings risks. To cover those risks, the ACM wants (i) consumers to feel confident when they purchase products or services online, (ii) the internet to be of good quality and open for businesses and consumers and (iii) businesses to comply with rules on consumer protection and competition law when developing innovative products and services. In that regard, the ACM also referred to its recent position paper discussing its strategy in relation to market dominance of big tech companies [see our Newsletter article below].

In relation to the energy market, the ACM will focus on the transition to sustainable energy being efficient, affordable and reliable. For this to happen, well-functioning markets are essential. The ACM also wishes consumers to be well informed when making decisions.

In the pharmaceutical industry, the ACM will focus on drug manufacturers complying with competition law. Competition in this sector , according to the ACM, may contribute to innovation and reduce drug prices. At the same time, the ACM wishes to preserve innovative incentives and stimulate the development of new drugs. The ACM will work on this together with the Dutch Health Care Authority, other competition authorities and stakeholders.

The ACM has stressed the importance of ports in the Dutch economy. Competition in the port sector in the Netherlands has been a priority of the ACM since 2016 as fair competition may improve its international competitiveness. The ACM continues to investigate possible infringements of competition rules and seeks to enhance awareness of those rules by, for example, sending flyers to businesses active in the ports and launching the so-called 'cartel test'. With this test, businesses can preliminarily assess whether there is a risk of their behaviour infringing competition law.