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Parlamento Europeo - 13 dicembre 1991
COMPETITION POLICY
A3-0338/91

Text adopted on 13.12.91

RESOLUTION

on the 20th Report of the Commission of the European Communities

on Competition Policy

The European Parliament,

- having regard to the 20th Report of the Commission of the

European Communities on Competition Policy,

- having regard to its earlier resolutions on competition

policy,

- having regard to the important developments in this sector

over the last year,

- having regard to the report of the Committee on Economic and

Monetary Affairs and Industrial Policy and the opinions of

the Committee on Legal Affairs and Citizens' Rights and the

Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development

(A3-0338/91),

Timing and structure of the annual report

1. Notes that the 20th Report was sent to the Parliament earlier

than the 19th Report but still considerably later than

Parliament's suggested deadline of 30 April; welcomes the

Commission's undertaking to make every effort to observe this

deadline in the future;

2. Insists on the Commission giving a full point-by-point

response to the current resolution within eight weeks, unlike

its severely delayed and unofficial response to Parliament's

similar request in its resolution on the 19th Report;

3. Demands that the Commission keep the European Parliament

fully and rapidly informed of all major policy initiatives in

the field of competition policy, and that all draft block

exemptions and Commission notices (such as those on

telecommunications and transparency of financial relations as

regards public enterprises) be transmitted to the Parliament

at the same time as to the relevant Advisory Committee;

4. Regards as unacceptable any procedure, such as that followed

in the preparation of the communication on Transparency of

State Aids, which denies the Parliament the opportunity to

express a view on an important development in competition

policy before final decisions have been made and publicised;

Main developments in Community policy

5. Stresses the great importance of competition policy for the

completion of the 1992 single market and the process of

European integration;

6. Reiterates its concern at the fact that competition policy is

often considered separately from other Community activities;

in particular, points to the need to strike a balance between

competition policy and the requirements of an industrial

policy geared towards strengthening the Community's

productive structure and its international competitiveness,

particularly in definable strategic sectors;

7. Considers, furthermore, that decisions on competition policy

should be more closely linked to the requirements of those

Community policies which are given priority in the EC

Treaties, such as economic and social cohesion and policies

in respect of small and medium-sized undertakings and

research;

8. Calls on the Commission to devise as soon as possible a

definite policy of economic and social cohesion within the

meaning of Article 130a of the EEC Treaty, defining inter

alia the role of operations to assist employment and regional

development; calls also for an assessment to be made at the

same time of the impact which decisions on concentrations,

agreements and aid will have on employment, management by the

regions over their own economic development, the environment

and regional and ecological imbalances;

9. Welcomes the Commission's favourable attitude to small and

medium-sized undertakings but considers that the current,

purely competition-oriented approach and the separation of

aid from other measures in respect of such undertakings do

not meet the development and adjustment requirements of SMUs

in the run-up to the single market; considers, therefore,

that a comprehensive and consistent policy towards SMUs

should be implemented, including the drawing up of impact

assessment 'forms' for the sector concerned which should be

completed before any specific competition policy decisions

are taken;

10.Welcomes the fact that the new regulation on merger control

(Regulation (EEC) No 4604/89) has now taken effect and

confirms that such instruments are necessary to ensure

balanced development of the Community market; considers,

however, that the system needs to be modified substantially

to take account of the points made in paragraphs 6, 7 and 12

and also to achieve certain other objectives, e.g.:

- reduction to ECU 2 billion of the quantitative threshold

beyond which anti-trust measures can be taken and the

introduction of corrective assessment measures which take

account of the share of the market sector in question;

- greater legal and administrative integration of national

anti-trust systems and the Community system, including the

possibility of coordinated action or measures delegated to

the two levels of authority;

- greater transparency and guarantees in the procedural and

investigative phase in which specialist technical and

economic inquiries would be a determining factor and allow

for full autonomy in decision-making;

Calls on the Commission, therefore, to draw up and submit to

Parliament an interim communication in the second half of

1992 on the questions raised in this connection, providing an

in-depth analysis of the measures required for the reform of

Regulation (EEC) No 4064/89;

11.Considers that the adoption of the merger control regulation,

and the recent controversy over the De Havilland case have

shown the immediate need for ever more rigorous economic

analysis by the Commission; requests more information from

the Commission as to how it currently defines the relevant

sectoral or geographical market in a particular case, whether

the Commission has enough economists working on competition

policy cases, and how the Commission coordinates the economic

advice from different Directorate-Generals;

12.Further considers that, as a minimum step in the area of

merger control, decisions must be taken in the light of

adequate information about the wider consequences; and

therefore calls on the Commission, when considering a

proposed merger under the Merger Regulation, to invite the

Commissioners responsible to prepare, where they consider it

appropriate, evaluations of the likely industrial, employment

and regional consequences of the merger;

13.Calls on the Commission to continue its efforts to reduce the

unacceptably high number of files outstanding, which numbered

2734 at the end of 1990;

14.Notes that when human resources were allocated for 1991, the

number of posts effectively assigned to the Directorate-

General for Competition was substantially lower than the

figure approved by the European Parliament in the 1991

budget; points out the need to adjust the resources of this

service to meet the extra workload resulting from the

considerable increase in activities, not least because of the

extension of Community relations (EFTA, countries of Central

and Eastern Europe, etc.);

15.Welcomes the draft Commission notice on application of

Articles 85 and 86 of the Treaty by the courts of the Member

States, which should help to encourage more intensive

application of the Community laws at national level; regrets,

however, that the draft notice was not sent to the European

Parliament;

16.Considers, however, that decentralized application of

competition law can only flourish when there is an adequate

framework of competition policy and competition law and

efficient merger control within each Member State, and that

any Member State without such a framework must develop one as

rapidly as possible;

17.Attaches importance to the Communication on transparency of

state aids adopted by the Commission in July 1991, and

emphasizes the need for the Commission to take account of

Parliament's views; is concerned that this communication will

introduce a regulatory bias against public enterprise by

imposing detailed bureaucratic intervention on public sector

organisations which does not apply to the private sector;

Believes that certain principles must be safeguarded:

- investment must not be assessed solely in terms of immediate

return but must also take account of other aspects and

objectives; commercial profitability although fundamental

may not be the sole criterion for assessing the activities

of public undertakings;

- any intervention should be based on Article 222 of the EEC

Treaty which provides that the form of ownership of

undertakings cannot be imposed on Member States;

Therefore calls upon the Commission to collaborate with

Parliament in reviewing the content of the Communication;

18.Stresses the importance of monitoring aid and notes with

interest the intention to extend such monitoring to all

existing aid; welcomes, furthermore, the intention to

implement a stricter policy as regards aid to the wealthier

regions of the Community which have greater resources than

the disadvantaged regions, given that this weakens cohesion;

considers that further progress should be made in respect of

current efforts to ensure transparency through greater

rationalization of existing rules and procedures; believes

that, in order to develop this policy in a coherent way, the

Commission should bring forward proposals for a Community

policy framework for investment incentives, with the

objective of:

(i) minimising the risk of Member States bidding against

each other for footloose investment,

(ii) maximising the impact of any investment incentives on

the global total of investment in the Community,

(iii) encouraging a pattern of investment in keeping with the

Community's regional, social and environmental

priorities;

19.Recalls that in its resolution of 24 January 1991 on the 19th

Commission report on competition policy, the European

Parliament noted that State aid was intrinsically neither

beneficial nor harmful, but that it was necessary to evaluate

the purpose for which it was being used and its possible

effects on economic and social cohesion;

20.Welcomes the Commission's favourable attitude to

environmental aid over the last year, and specifies that such

aid is justified, if it allows undertakings better to adapt

their installations to the new Community legislation in the

field of environmental protection;

German unification

21.Calls for continued vigilance by the Commission to ensure

that the privatisation process being carried out by the

Treuhandanstalt remains fair and transparent, and that the

new German Länder are truly open to all Community investors

on a non-discriminatory basis;

22.Welcomes the Commission's decision of 18 September 1991 on

monitoring aids paid by the Treuhandanstalt, the world's

largest industrial holding company, which recognized the need

for massive public support for transforming a centrally

managed system into a social market economy;

23.Reaffirms that major state aids will be required to rebuild

the economies of the five new Länder but insists that they

are not disproportionate to their objective, especially

relative to aids provided to other disadvantaged areas in the

Community;

24.Calls on the Commission to ensure that the vitally necessary

reconstruction of the economy of the five new German Länder

is not used as an excuse to increase production capacities in

sectors such as steel;

25.Deeply regrets that it was not informed of the declaration in

the Council Minutes when the 7th Code of aids to shipbuilding

was adopted that shipyards in the five new German Länder

might later be given a temporary derogation from the

provisions of the Directive; considers that such a

declaration, on which Parliament was not consulted, undercut

the value of the adopted Directive, and prevented proper

debate within Parliament of the possible derogation; the

European Parliament, with the support of the Commission,

shall apply to the Council to ensure that in the future it

automatically also sends Parliament the Minutes and/or

Declarations concerning all matters on which it has already

been consulted previously;

26.Calls for more information from the Commission about the

agreements that have been reached between the Commission and

the German authorities on the phasing out of existing aid to

West Berlin and to the former border areas in Western

Germany;

International aspects of competition policy

27.Supports the Commission in its endeavour to establish further

international anti-trust agreements; is of the opinion that

the next bilateral agreement to be concluded should be

between the European Community and Japan;

28.Takes note of the reaching of an agreement with the EFTA

countries, but considers it essential for the achievement of

the European Economic Area that the EFTA area also be subject

to control by an authority with equivalent powers with regard

to competition to those of the Commission, while requesting

more details on the way this instrument would operate;

however, reserves the right to give its opinion on this when

it considers the treaty establishing the European Economic

Area, which it expects to be forwarded as soon as possible;

points to the need for a uniform approach to merger control

in the European Economic Area;

29.Considers that it is of the utmost importance that those

countries of Central and Eastern Europe which are currently

developing a market economy should conduct a competition

policy of their own but which reflects as far as possible EEC

competition policy; believes that the experiences of the five

new German Länder have shown some of the very real problems

that are involved in this context, calls for these special

circumstances to be taken into account when negotiating

association agreements with these countries, and calls for

cooperation and assistance in developing an efficient system

of competition in Central and Eastern Europe;

30.Welcomes the recent agreement with the United States on a

more detailed framework for relations between the European

Community anti-trust authorities and those of the United

States;

31.Believes there is an urgent need for reform of GATT to

include the development of an international system of

competition based on minimum standards of competition law;

32.Welcomes the Commission's intention to publish in the

Official Journals all decisions on aids and anti-trust

procedures;

Other issues

33.Notes the judgments handed down by the Court of Justice in

the 'Automec' and 'Omni-Partijen Akkoord' cases, and the

important role played by the Court of Justice in interpreting

and clarifying certain questions concerning the

administrative procedures of the Commission in applying

Articles 85 and 86 of the Treaty;

34.Welcomes, above all, the fact that recent case law has served

to strengthen the rights and procedural guarantees of the

parties in such administrative procedures;

35.Believes, nevertheless, that although the judgments handed

down in recent years have confirmed the Commission's wide

powers with regard to inspection and verification, they have

also highlighted certain aspects of the procedures in

question which confirm Parliament's long-standing concern

that in these procedures, the Commission is, at one and the

same time, examiner, prosecutor and judge;

36.Notes that the Commission has recently published its promised

guidelines on the application of the Community competition

rules in the telecommunications sector, but regrets that they

were published in the Official Journal without having been

first transmitted to the European Parliament; welcomes the

recent Commission inquiry into international

telecommunications tariffs, and calls for an explanation as

to why they are often 2-3 times higher than national tariffs,

and also why there are such great differences between

equivalent national tariffs within the Community;

37.Calls on the Commission also to deal decisively with other

situations which citizens would find hard to accept after 31

December 1992, such as high air fares, large differences in

car prices and high bank charges;

38.Welcomes the Commission's declared intention to vigorously

apply the rules of competition in liberal professions and

service sectors, such as medical services, consultancies and

real estate agencies; calls on the Commission to carry out a

thorough review of national legislation which creates real

barriers to persons wishing to take up employment in

professional occupations and services;

39.Calls on the Commission to report back to the Parliament on

the extent to which price fixing and cartel arrangements are

still being practised within the European steel industry;

40.Further calls on the Commission to state whether a multi-

media regulation is required at European Community level, in

order to prevent unacceptable dominance of the audiovisual

and media sectors by a few transnational groups;

41.Calls on the Commission to make known as soon as possible its

views on the compatibility of different sets of price

regulations for books in the context of the internal market,

given the desirability of having the same regulation apply in

at least the same language area, in the light of a resolution

to this effect adopted by the European Parliament in 1987 and

the commitment made at the time by the Commission;

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42.Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the

Commission, the Council, the competition authorities in the

Member States and the EFTA countries, and the governments and

parliaments of the Member States and the EFTA countries.

 
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