Federal Minister Schramböck: Focusing on quality and ideal framework conditions to compete on the global market
eu2018at – European Competition Day – Competition law – thinking outside the box
“We will not be able to compete on the global market by offering the lowest prices; we need to focus on quality and the ideal framework conditions for healthy competition”,
underlined economics minister Margarete Schramböck at the opening of the EU conference “European Competition Day – Competition law – thinking outside the box”. The conference, held at the Austria Center Vienna, was opened on 24 September 2018 by Margarete Schramböck, Austrian Federal Minister for Digital and Economic Affairs; Margrethe Vestager, the European Commissioner for Competition; and Theodor Thanner, Director General of the Austrian Federal Competition Authority.
Around 200 experts from all EU member states, the EU institutions, universities and business are taking part in the European Competition Day. This event traditionally takes place during each presidency in the country holding the presidency; its purpose is to enable an exchange of ideas on current issues in competition policy. The international panels at the event discuss a very broad range of challenges in the global supply chain. Professor Baudenbacher, former President of the EFTA Court, examined the original objectives of competition law and questioned whether these objectives are in fact always kept in mind when competition law is enforced.
Other interesting questions will cover possible difficulties during enforcement, where analysis often only takes into account short‑term effects, such as the impact on prices, without addressing the long‑term effects on competition in Europe. A further topic will be economic aspects in connection with research into behavioural economics.
Over-regulation as a barrier to competition
The regulatory environment is key for maintaining competition. In this context, over-regulation is a particular problem and a major barrier to competition, especially for small and medium‑sized enterprises (SMEs). If SMEs leave the market, the concentration rate automatically increases. “Competition law is not an end in itself. In order to ensure long-term competition with a wide range of choices, the regulatory framework must be made much more SME‑friendly”, stressed the economics minister.
A separate panel will focus on competitive situations in the global supply chain. Distribution channels in the digital era are different from those of 50 years ago. Dependencies on platforms are a major competitive challenge, as is vertical integration (participating interests of international companies in the supply chain).
“Fair competition requires the safeguarding of competition for companies in the long term – this safeguards jobs in Europe and creates a positive climate for innovation. These objectives of competition law for general prosperity must be brought back to the fore. Focusing solely on low prices is too short‑sighted and would have a boomerang effect on jobs”,
concluded economics minister Margarete Schramböck.