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Economic and Monetary Committee Meet With Commissioner M. Vestager

On 18 June 2018 the Economic and Monetary Committee of the European Parliament met

for a constructed dialogue with Commissioner M. Vestager. This was the yearly structured

dialogue with the Commissioner responsible for competition enforcement, keeping in mind

the EU essence is free competition and not assisted competition.

According to Vestager, the Commission will continue to work on the antitrust cases against

Google, ever since concluding the first couple of investigations. The numbers in these cases

show the effects of the Commission’s intervention, which in turn led to market

improvements in Europe.

The Commissioner also emphasized that EU state aid rules were established to help

competition work better through measures such as the prohibition of special tax treatments

that hurt small and innovative rivals to compete on equal terms. There are many examples

to this point, such as the Apple, Amazon, Fiat, and the IKEA and McDonalds cases, which

latter are still under investigation and require a lot of resources, as well as the UK special tax

scheme. The EU General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER) is also being reviewed now and is being extended for better investments.

On the directive to make Member States; competition authorities more effective enforcers

of EU antitrust rules, Ms Vestager said that national competition authorities will have new

investigative tools, higher fines, have the necessary financial and human resources to do

their work. There is a political agreement already but the final legal text has yet to be

formally approved by the European Parliament and Council, which is expected by the end of


In terms of Brexit, the UK leaves the EU, the link will be weakened but the state aid given in

the UK will still be able to hurt the EU27 market. The withdrawal agreement to be set by the

European Commission will help deal with this possibility. On the other hand, digital

platforms are one of the most important and worrying sectors for the Commission, which

has had two public consultations in the past years: businesses are worried about the major

players locking down access to customers as well as the lack of transparency into how their

algorithms work. The new observatory to be set up by the Commission will have to be well

armed to enter into the game before negative effects occur, and Commissioner Vestager

suggested that the EP’s role should be to push for legislation as soon as possible. To tax

these digital companies, the EU needs to update its approach to taxes in the digital area, i.e.

in corporate arrangements, customers behavior, and location of the company.



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