Recent statements by the European Commission's President
Juncker and Competition Commissioner Vestager imply an increased
focus on social aspects when enforcing the EU competition rules,
signifying a possible shift that companies should take to heart.
According to the Commissioner, competition authorities are to use
their powers to act on people's most pressing concerns and to
defend the interests of individuals. Companies can therefore expect
quicker decision-making with an even stronger focus on consumer
harm in areas that are the most relevant to consumers.
President Juncker first referred to the social side of
competition in his State of the Union 2016 by stating that a fair
playing field means that, in Europe, consumers are protected
against cartels and abuse by powerful companies. And that every
company, no matter how big or small, has to pay its taxes where it
makes its profits. The European Commission is to oversee this
Competition Commissioner Vestager echoed President Juncker's
sentiment in a recent speech, where she stated that many people are
unhappy even though the world has never been better off. While
freer trade has brought competition to markets that used to be
closed, people don't want to simply be told that open markets
makes them better off. They want to know that trade benefits
everyone, not just the powerful few. And that is exactly what
competition enforcement is about, according to Commission Vestager.
Open markets can give everyone a fair share of the benefits of
growth, as competition makes companies cut prices, provides people
with more options and stimulates innovation. Competition
enforcement also sends a message of fairness: public authorities
defend the interests of individuals, not just those of big
corporations. They are to use their powers to answer people's
most pressing concerns. Commissioner Vestager therefore calls on
public authorities to:
be clear about how competition
work on taking decisions more
work together to protect consumers
throughout the world.
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The Damages Directive, which seeks to promote and harmonise the private enforcement of EU competition law before national courts across the European Union – and which was first published in December 2014 after more than ten years of debate – was due to be transposed into national law by each Member State by 27 December 2016
Turkey's Court of Cassation recently held that the Consumer Court is the appropriate forum for a lawsuit filed by a consumer against a bank, seeking compensation for damages arising from the bank's competition law violation.
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