If consumers like your product, you grow. If you grow big, you have a special responsibility. You cannot buy your success if it means taking a monopolistic position.
Commissioner Margrethe Vestager
Commissioner Margrethe Vestager held two Citizens’ Dialogues in Poland on the same day. On 1 March, she was in Krakow in the morning and in Warsaw in the afternoon having a lively and energetic debate with 500 people in total. The main topics were competition policy and the future of Europe.
Both events were attended by stakeholders interested in her competition portfolio, and by young people as well. The Citizens’ Dialogue in Krakow gathered 150 people, while in Warsaw the room reached full capacity with 350 participants.
In Krakow, many questions came from representatives of smaller and medium-size companies, as well as from those representing big players.
The Commissioner was asked about the recent decision taken by the Commission, which was not in favour of the merger between Alstom and Siemens.
The Commissioner explained that “both are champions in the rail industry. Our concerns were about signalling systems and very high-speed trains. We need to have competition in signalling systems. Since both produce signalling, if they would stop competing, we would risk higher prices and less competition”.
The participants in Krakow wanted to know more about the EU’s plastic strategy – particularly the ban on single use plastics – and Europe’s role as a global player in trade.
Many participants voiced their uncertainty about Brexit and its consequences for the EU. “Europe will change when Great Britain leaves. I would hope that big successful countries like Poland will continue in their success. There is a well known list of our problems, but you should see how strong we are when we do things together” – replied Vestager.
During both her Dialogues, Commissioner Vestager explained the rules of competition. She underlined that big and successful companies are welcome in Europe. “If consumers like your product, you grow. If you grow big, you have a special responsibility,and you need to behave in a way that you do not kill the smaller player. You cannot buy your success if it means taking a monopolistic position” – she said – “Yes, you can be successful, but you need to be careful, too”.
In Warsaw, participants wanted to know her comment on the rule of law in Poland, and on subsidies received recently by Polish Public media from the Polish government.
On the rule of law, she expressed her view that this is about values, and also has an economic aspect to it. Why? Because companies should know that if they are treated unfairly, they should be able to address it to the independent court. On media subsidies, she said that Commission prefers being very careful, since it is the responsibility of Member States to ensure media plurality.
Some participants of the Warsaw dialogue expressed their concerns about current conditions of the banking sector in Europe. Commissioner Vestager reassured them that after the economic crisis which was “devastating” and brought higher VAT and lowered social protection of citizens, now the sector is “much more stable and robust”. -We have a banking union but still many things to do – she pointed out.