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Competition policy is an important part of economic policy. In an economic system based on a market economy, competition policy has to determine the conditions for a competitive framework which ensure that competition between economic players functions and anti-competitive behaviour is stopped and penalised.

 

 

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Helmut Gahleitner

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Ulrike Ginner

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The mobile phone battery is the scourge of the modern world. Its short lifespan makes us desperately look for the charger when it is running out of juice. And it almost drives us up the wall when we can’t find the correct plug. This is particularly annoying for iPhone users: their devices can only be charged with Apple charger plugs. One wonders why?

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Virtually all sectors, institutions and digital users are affected by the innovative commercial potential of big data. Over time vast amounts of object data will become available for marketing and academic research, as well as purposes such as government planning and oversight, and will no longer need to be laboriously collected. By analysing user behaviour, standardised products, services and even prices can be customised.

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Daniela Zimmer

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On 26th March 2019, the European Parliament agreed with a clear majority (579 Yes, 33 No, 43 abstentions) to the Directive proposal on collective redress. From the point of view of the Chamber of Labour and the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC), this development is an important step to strengthen the rights of consumers.  

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On 6th December 2018, the Legal Affairs Committee voted in favour of allowing Europe’s consumers to bring combined action if they have been damaged collectively. This is a positive development, which the AK very much welcomes. A very good result could also be achieved for Europe’s workers as regards cross-border conversions, mergers and divisions of companies.

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The European Court of Auditors has issued a Special Report on passenger and air passenger rights. In doing so he clearly illustrated the problems incurred by passengers: there is a lack of information and practical enforcement. In a parallel vote, Parliament voted in favour of significantly increasing rail passenger rights.

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Unfortunately, the vote on 22nd October 2018 in the European Parliament did not deliver the demands of the citizens’ initiative “Right2Water” to the extent hoped for with regard to its transposition into EU legislation. Hence, the human right to clean and affordable drinking water for all Europeans has not been secured.

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The Volkswagen scandal showed how vulnerable consumers across Europe are when they are cheated. Because most people don’t go to court individually to take on a multinational company, a good solution is to go to court as a group. But only a handful of EU countries offer a working and relatively efficient system for this. In the big majority of countries, it is either legally impossible to do so, or the system in place does not function properly.

 

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On 10th September 2018, the European Parliament’s Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) voted on the proposal on a recast of the Drinking Water Directive. The Citizens’ Initiative “Right2Water”, which had been supported by the Chamber of Labour, demands the enshrinement of a human right to clean and affordable drinking water for all Europeans. However, this demand was not as distinctly implemented as it would be necessary from the AK’s point of view. That is why improvements are needed for the plenary vote scheduled for October.