EU competition law is a strong tool to shield consumers against unfair prices. As the European Parliament adopts this year’s report on competition policy, the Socialists and Democrats shed light on the role of EU competition law in fighting ‘greedflation’ – price increases occurring when companies take advantage of rising energy costs to bolster their profits.
A new study on ‘greedflation’ (hyperlink), commissioned by the S&D Group, outlines concrete steps on how the European Commission can introduce a vulnerable consumer standard when enforcing competition rules. In practice, this means focusing competition policy on the needs of low-income consumers.
René Repasi, S&D MEP and European Parliament’s rapporteur on competition policy, said:
“In this year’s competition report, the European Parliament calls on the Commission to use all means available within competition law to rein in the cost of living crisis. As the report acknowledges, rising energy and food prices have led to excessive corporate profits, so called ‘greedflation’, which is affecting vulnerable consumers with full force.”
“Currently, the Commission applies competition rules horizontally across all sectors. A price increase in yachts or Rolex watches is handled with the same priority as an increase in the price of bread or heating. In times of spiralling energy and food prices, driven by the war in Ukraine, this is not acceptable. We are asking the Commission to enforce competition law in a more targeted way, shifting attention from any consumer to vulnerable consumers.”
“This can be achieved by introducing a vulnerable consumer standard under the current legislative framework, as addressing the cost-of-living crisis is supported by the EU Treaties’ aim of an internal market working for balanced economic growth, price stability, and a social market economy.”
“The new study that we commissioned sets out how this can be done in practice by means of the Commission’s enforcement discretion and priority setting. We expect the Commission to take these ideas on board and immediately act in the interest of most vulnerable Europeans.”