As is known, competition issues are within the exclusive competence of the EU institutions and bodies. It means competition rules and practices are universal among all member states. Thus, the Commission’s executive Vice-President M. Vestager, acknowledged that while “improving life of citizens and SMEs, competition brings better prices, more choice and increased innovation”; therefore, she added, “fair competition” in the EU has been a vital aspect of European integration.
New Eurobarometer survey on competition policy and enforcement consist of two parts: one is focusing on citizens and the other on SMEs. External contractors interviewed over the phone a representative sample of SMEs and citizens (aged 15 and over) in all EU-27 states: e.g. for the SMEs’ survey, 12,809 interviews were conducted during May-June 2022; and for the citizens’ survey, 25,845 interviews during June-July 2022. The respondents were asked about: = their views concerning the goals of EU competition policy; = their awareness of EU competition policy as well as their sources of information on this topic; = the sectors or business activities they perceived as having insufficient competition, and = aspects of improvements in competition policy enforcement and new directions in competition policies they would like to see.
Present Eurobarometer survey (published 25.x.22) shows that Europeans support the main goals of competition policy, recognising its important contribution to the economy’s development. Among main findings, in particular, respondents confirmed that competition policy: a) encourages innovation (82% of citizens and 89% of SMEs); b) allows for better prices (74% of citizens and 81% of SMEs) and more choice (83% of citizens and 84% of SMEs); and c) helps companies become more competitive on global markets (72% of citizens and 73% of SMEs).
More on Eurobarometer in: https://europa.eu/eurobarometer/about/eurobarometer
Vast majority of citizens and SMEs strongly support EU and states’ measures to improve competition; they believe that competition has a key role to prevent players across market sectors from abusing their market power (87% of citizens and SMEs) and to fight cartels (84% of citizens and SMEs).
About 76% of citizens and 73% of SMEs believe it is important to prevent mergers and acquisitions that reduce competition. Besides, the Europeans think it is important to take advantages away from competitors subsidised by non-EU governments (70% of citizens and 74% of SMEs) and by EU governments (69% of citizens and 73% of SMEs).
All references to: https://europa.eu/eurobarometer/surveys/detail/2655
Other major findings
A majority of respondents recognise competition policy and its enforcement as a key tool in dealing with modern challenges: e.g. 66 per cent of SMEs agree that regulation, such as the Digital Markets Act, can be an effective solution in market relations. Therefore, reviewers appreciated Commission’s achievements in encouraging competition in the digital transformation of the economy and society (73%), as well as in more environmentally friendly goods and services in the EU Single Market (54%).
As for citizens, more than 50 per cent (54%) have experienced a lack of competition, reflected in higher prices, less choices or lower quality. When asked about the areas in which they believe competition enforcement should play stronger role, citizens expressed their concerns for the lack of competition in the energy sector (27%) and food retailing (20%). In the last Eurobarometer survey, published in 2019, telecommunications and Internet access were at the top of citizens’ concerns (26%), while today only 18% of respondents have identified this as an area in which competition should be improved.
When asked about the competition-related difficulties experienced, SMEs mentioned high prices (57%), as well as powerful suppliers and buyers being able to impose unfair conditions (experienced by respectively 57% and 42% of respondents). In specific sectors, SMEs expressed views that stronger competition in the provision of raw materials (12%) would be of the essence, as well as in the provision of energy (8%) and in the use of digital platforms to reach customers (8%).
Thus, European citizens and SMEs acquire information and the news concerning competition enforcement mostly through newspapers, including online – 52% of citizens and 51% of SMEs, and TV – 48% of citizens and 41% of SMEs.
However, social media proved to be an increasingly relevant source of information for citizens on competition (rising from 24% in 2019 to 39% in 2022), as well as for SMEs (37% in 2022).
General source: Commission press release at: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_22_6374