Updating EU merger rules would benefit consumers

BEUC NEWS - 16.02.2017

The EU is currently re-assessing its rules as to when the Union’s competition watchdog should scrutinise a pending merger. Over the past few years, a great number of acquisitions involved tech companies or businesses dealing with huge amounts of data. Due to current thresholds which need to be met for the EU to intervene on a merger case, some of these merger operations did escape the oversight of the European Commission competition directorate-general – despite their possible anti-competitive effects.

 

When companies with lots of consumer data merge there is a risk that consumers see the quality of the offer in digital services decreases. This is because in the digital economy, the ones who own data have an insurmountable advantage over their competitors. Data concentration also increases the risk that companies will unfairly use their customers’ data and potentially breach data protection and consumer laws – as shown in a court case brought against Facebook/WhatsApp by our German member vzbv.

BEUC wants to make sure that mergers between data-heavy companies do not slip through the Commission’s net. BEUC suggests to add two new criteria to the jurisdiction rules on merger control based on the value of the transaction and the number of end-consumers which are directly impacted by the operation.

Consumer welfare in the Single Market depends on the existence of competitive markets and this is even more important in our digital age.

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