Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2007-04-23-Speech-1-232"

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"Mr President, Honourable Members, we are here tonight to debate an issue of fundamental importance: rights. The Court has been clear: the right to damages is necessary to guarantee the effectiveness of Community competition rules. But consumers and business customers do not use their rights. Injuries are left uncompensated, while society and the economy absorb the loss: that is just reality. That is clearly unjust, incompatible with our Community of law and at odds with our shared competitiveness objectives. The European Commission and, I believe, most Members of this House will not tolerate this situation. Our Green Paper set out the problems. Finding appropriate solutions requires a very careful, measured approach, grounded in European legal traditions and developed through dialogue with stakeholders and, in particular, with Parliament. That is why the Commission will present a White Paper, accompanied by an impact assessment, for further discussion around the New Year. Mr Sánchez Presedo’s report provides a wealth of pertinent input into this process. I congratulate the rapporteur wholeheartedly and thank the shadow rapporteurs and the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs for all their work. I also thank Mr Doorn and the members of the Committee on Legal Affairs for their contribution. We will give most careful consideration to all Parliament’s recommendations in preparing the White Paper. I am aware that some are concerned that fostering private damage actions might lead to a US-style litigation culture. We will certainly take this into account in drafting the White Paper. But the scales are currently tipped against the victims. Carefully balanced European solutions need to be found. Common solutions that meet the strict tests of proportionality and subsidiarity should only be developed where national rules do not guarantee the right to damages effectively. I have also heard it said that more private actions will create additional costs for business. We heard similar arguments years ago as regards the ‘polluter pays’ principle for the environment. The fact is that today cartels and other abuses cause huge but hidden costs. Empirical research shows that international cartels raise prices by over 20%. Recent cartel decisions by the Commission covered synthetic rubber, gas-insulated switch gear and acrylic glass. All these cartels increased input costs for business and harmed European competitiveness. The time has come to introduce the ‘competition-infringer pays’ principle. Let us not forget that, whilst some industries have to create some pollution to do business, in the competition environment there is no need and no excuse for infringements. Infringers may not like having to repair the damage they cause, but they should simply not break the rules in the first place. It is their choice. I believe that making sure businesses and consumers do not lose out because of the illegal behaviour of some companies is worth fighting for. I sincerely hope that this week Parliament will send a strong message of support for this objective. We will discuss the detail together later, on the basis of a White Paper that will be balanced and measured and subject to the vigorous and very valuable scrutiny of this House."@en1

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