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Adequate responsiveness to the current situation Neelie Kroes European Commissioner for Competition Policy 6th/28th October 2008 State aid system will.

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Presentation on theme: "Adequate responsiveness to the current situation Neelie Kroes European Commissioner for Competition Policy 6th/28th October 2008 State aid system will."— Presentation transcript:

1 adequate responsiveness to the current situation Neelie Kroes European Commissioner for Competition Policy 6th/28th October 2008 State aid system will continue to be part of the solution, not part of the problem temporary empowerment allows the Competition Commissioner in agreement with the President, Commissioner Almunia and Commissioner McCreevy to make positive decisions on emergency rescue measures in favour of financial institutions.

2 if we were to ignore the state aid rules, governments would be tempted to get into a subsidy race and healthy companies could be put out of business just because their competitors received unfair state subsidies – and that is no way to protect jobs and growth. There must be no discrimination based on nationality, e.g. of potential acquiring banks; Emergency measures shall be necessary and proportionate, distortions limited to the minimum; Rescue aid must be followed (if not accompanied) by restructuring or liquidations plans

3 As regards merger control: The Commission is committed to continue applying the existing rules, taking full account of economic environment. That means the Commission can and will take into account the evolving market conditions and, where applicable, the failing firm defence. The existing rules allow the Commission to permit take-overs to be implemented without having to wait for the Commission's approval in cases where there is urgency and where there are no 'a priori' competition concerns. The Commission can indeed grant derogations from the standstill obligation, pending a definitive outcome of the proceedings, so as to enable the immediate implementation of the transactions which are part of rescue operations. In all cases, we are therefore committed to act diligently and in close cooperation with all interested stakeholders. National Competition Authorities are able to take a similar approach under their national merger rules. Application of the merger control rules will ultimately ensure the protection of consumer welfare in all its dimensions, that is, both in terms of financial stability in the short term and competitive market structures in the medium term.

4 In such exceptional circumstances, it may be necessary to reassure bank depositors that they will not suffer losses, so as to limit the possibility of bank runs and undue negative spill over effects on healthy banks. In this systematic context, general guarantees protecting retail deposits (and bank debt held by retail clients) can be a legitimate component of the public policy response.

5 We need to coordinate national actions and maximise their effectiveness, and at the same time secure that their negative spillovers on other financial institutions and Member States are limited. In that respect, some concerns have been expressed in various corners about the very large scope of the Irish guarantee. The measure as first announced also raised an issue of discrimination. I welcome the signs of openness by the Irish authorities to apply the scheme to other banks with significant operations in Ireland.

6 As the impact of Europe's economic slowdown is felt in terms of redundancies and reduced orders and smaller margins for error, we need a calm and clear Europe-wide response, not a series of divergent national responses. This is where state aid rules help. The state aid rules prevent beggar-thy-neighbour national responses by ensuring that aid does not give recipients a disproportionate advantage, putting them in an artificially privileged position in relation to their competitors. Europe cannot afford to have one Member State's cure aggravating the illness of patients in other Member States.

7 There is no national route out of this crisis. It would be a disaster to start a subsidy race with Member States spending money not to deal with the underlying problems, but to deal with the problems caused by other Member States’ subsidies. So what should states be doing? They should stimulate sustainable investment in European business, which will lead to more innovation, more research, better training and to higher quality jobs.

8 The state aid rules will not get in the way, because they have been designed to support just such measures. From day one in my office I have worked hard to ensure that nearly every rule and process of state aid control has been reformed to enable our state aid policies to directly support growth and jobs. State aid rules also help to focus on targeting the aid where it has optimal effect. The economy is going to need state intervention – state aid – but it is going to need the right type. In particular in an economic downturn, Member States need to be very careful with every euro of taxpayers' money.

9 Aid that raises productivity Aid that meets needs that the market does not meet Aid that manages transition and minimises the social costs of economic change Aid to rescue and restructure firms in difficulty.

10 Communication from the Commission — The application of State aid rules to measures taken in relation to financial institutions in the context of the current global financial crisis (25.10.2008)

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