Monti’s speech on the modernisation of Community competition policy

United Kingdom

At the meeting with the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs of the European Parliament on 11 January 2000, Competition Commissioner Mario Monti explained the Commission’s action intended at modernising EC competition policy. The speech focused on two issues. First, State aid policy and, second, enforcement of Articles 81 and 82.

Monti highlighted the most important recent measures concerning State aid: the procedural regulation which entered into force in April 1999; the 1998 Regulation enabling the Commission to adopt group exemptions for certain categories of horizontal aid; the drafts of the group exemption Regulations concerning aid for SMEs, for training and the de minimis rule adopted in July; new rules on rescue and restructuring aid to enterprises in difficulty which entered into force in October; and the Commission’s Notice "on the application of Articles 87 and 88 to state aid in the form of guarantees".

As regards regional aid, Monti focused on the main elements of the reform launched by the Commission in 1997: the concentration of regional state aid which needs to be based on its characteristic as exceptional positive discrimination in favour of those regions most in need; the reduction of the maximum allowed regional aid intensities; the transfer from the Commission to the Member States (under certain conditions) of the power to propose the appropriate areas for assistance.

On the issue of transparency, the competition policy services are examining measures to accompany existing sources of State aid information. The 8th Survey on State aid is being expanded further, and preparations are underway on the upgrade of the internal State aid information system, with a view to developing a state aid register and possibly a future scoreboard.

Monti also described the modernisation of the rules concerning the enforcement of Articles 81 and 82 and, in particular, the reform proposed in the Commission’s White Paper on the application of Article 81(3). In his opinion, it is essential for the Commission to focus its action on the most important cases and to bring the decision making power closer to the European citizen in order to increase the acceptance of competition policy. (SPEECH/00/4)