Regulators would be able to rein in big firms for a broader range of reasons, according to a draft compromise brokered between MEPs who are steering the legislation through the European Parliament. MEPs who have pushed for the rule hope it could boost competition in countries like Belgium and the Netherlands, which they call duopolies, meaning they are dominated by two firms.
“I hope that it can tackle the issues that several countries have. If I look at the Belgian market, it is outrageous what kind of service quality they have and the prices they have here. You have nowhere to go because you are stuck with these two firms,” said Estonian Reform Party MEP Kaja Kallas (ALDE), one of the Parliament’s lead authors on the reform.
The agreement can only go into effect after it is formally sealed between the lead MEPs and if it survives three-way negotiations with national governments and the European Commission later this year. The Commission’s original proposal, which was published last September, did not include any measure to regulate oligopolies.
Several sources involved in the Parliament discussions said MEPs from different political camps have settled their disagreements over the issue, putting to bed one of the more divisive fights in their discussions. Other details including investment rules are still holding up a final agreement between the lead MEPs, which is the last step before the bill can be voted on in the Parliament’s Industry Committee (ITRE) this autumn.