How has European competition policy empowered the commission?
- Presentation of European Competition Policy's actors and aims
- European competition policy
- The Commission
- Examples of conflicts on competition in the EU and the position of the Commission
- The case of Microsoft
- Hachette: An example of mergers that would have created a dominant position
- Telecom sector (and TV operators) in Italy
- The real power of the Commission
- Impose fines: A real power?
- Competences are shared with member states
- European Competition Policy: Empowering the Commission
This question could appear really simple, and the first answer that comes is “yes of course”: with the introduction of European Competition Policy, the EU Commission has an extended power, and can now decide if a company respects competition laws in the Union or not. But this issue is actually more complicated, and is in fact thought-worthy: is this a real power, which enables the Commission to take new measures? Another way to discuss is to look at the issue from companies’ point of view: some of them could be now afraid by settling in Europe, because of this increasing power of the Commission. To conclude, we can say that the power given by European Competition policy to the Commission is not absolute. I will thereby try to explain in this paper in what circumstances the Commission more power has now, and what are the aim and the limits of this power.
In a first part, I will present briefly the Commission, and particularly its connection with competition. I will introduce European Competition policy too, in order to explain the role of the Commission, and its theoretical possibilities to take measures concerning competition issues. Then I will analyze some cases of conflict between Commission and companies concerning competition. This analysis will help me to conclude, and to underline the limits of the power of Commission given by European Competition Policy.
[...] The firm was condemned by the European Union for illegal abuse of this near monopoly. Two points were ruled: - Microsoft’s operating system Windows 2000 was specially done to advantage Microsoft’s softwares, in order to avoid any competitive threat: softwares from other companies (Sun Microsystems, RealNetworks) were deprived. This position was not conforming to the antitrust enforcement of the EU Competition Commission: other softwares developers lacked information, and so were not able to be competitive. - The second point concerns Windows Media Player: Microsoft wanted to include it in its future version of Windows XP. [...]
[...] However European Competition Policy empowers the Commission I’d just like to underline here the fact that the Commission is really important for the Union, in so far as it is the only really independent institution: Commissioners are chosen to represent European interests, and not citizens’ or States’ ones. That is in fact in this direction that European Competition Policy empowered the Commission, because it is the only institution which goes beyond States interests. It cans then decide if State aids are not too high, or if a merger creates or strengthens the dominant position of a company, whereas governments of members States but European Parliament and [...]
[...] The real power that European Competition Policy gives to the Commission emerges now. A. Impose fines: a real power? In this part, I will underline the fact that fines that impose the Commission are often quite ridiculous, compared with the huge turnover those companies realize in the European Union. The example of Microsoft is in this case edifying: the total fine imposed by the Commission amount to 1,676 billions of Euros, which is a small part of the turnover of Microsoft. [...]
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