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Facing the challenges of globalisation

In today’s globalised economy, companies operate increasingly across national borders. A growing number of merger transactions have an international dimension, affecting markets in several countries, often in different continents. The integration of national economies also enables companies to organise cartels and other anti-competitive practices on an international or even global basis. An effective enforcement of EU competition policy in a global environment therefore requires intensive cooperation with competition authorities outside the EU.

The European Commission cooperates closely with competition authorities of countries outside the EU for many years, and this both on policy and enforcement issues of mutual interest. Our main objective has been to promote convergence of competition policy instruments and practices across jurisdictions and to facilitate cooperation with competition authorities in other jurisdictions in enforcement activities.

Cooperation with other competition authorities takes place at two levels.

At bilateral level, the Commission has engaged in a wide range of cooperation activities with competition authorities in a number of third countries on the basis of bilateral agreements or memoranda of understanding. The nature of the cooperation activity varies between countries and can cover coordination of enforcement actions, sharing of information on cases of mutual interest, dialogue on competition policy issues and, in some cases, also capacity building support. A special aspect in this context is our cooperation with enlargement countries.

In addition, the Commission participates actively in the competition-related activities of a number of multilateral organisations such as the International Competition Network (ICN) (see also ICN Cartel Working Group), the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), UNCTAD, the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The main emphasis is on the promotion of policy convergence through dialogue and exchange of views on broader policy and enforcement issues, and in some cases through the establishment of recommended practices.

Our international subsidies policy

Improving international subsidy rules is one of the priorities of the Commission. Early 2020, the Commission agreed with the US and Japan on ways to improve the WTO rules against harmful subsidies. Already before, trade defence instruments were modernised, to make them faster and more efficient, so that the Commission can act firmly when European businesses suffer from imports of dumped or subsidised products.

The Commission also undertakes subsidies related work in the OECD, such as on competitive neutrality.

Subsidies granted by non-EU governments to companies active in the EU have an important impact on the Single Market. The EU has tools at its disposal to address some of the distortions caused by foreign subsidies, but they do not fully address all possible distortions. The Commission has, therefore, proposed a new instrument on levelling the playing field as regards foreign subsidies.

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Speeches and Articles about International cooperation