Thank you Madame Chair, I think we really have a good bunch of amendments as well as a very good basis to work on in terms of the compromises drafted by the Rapporteur.
Some very important sectors are clearly getting recognition, through both the text proposed by the Rapporteur, as well by the tabled amendments.
From my side and the side of the S&D, the most crucial point is to safeguard the weakest link in the competition chain. This is being reflected in our amendments to this Report.
Amendments regarding Google feature prominently. This goes in line with the first draft of the Report. It is understandable to have Google as a focus on this sector. We need to talk about it in a clear way, in a rational way. We cannot just ignore it because ignoring it would be ignoring the elephant in the room. Even though I agree that we need to be as concise as possible on this matter, while also assuring that the major concerns are reflected in the final draft.
Also related to the Digital sector, we are getting feedback from online travel agencies. These have complained of being ousted from the market. One example of this is the imposition by certain airlines of surcharges or restricted access to information for those using booking channels other than their own. I agree that the current revision of the Regulation on safeguarding competition in air transport should also tackle this issue. Appropriate legislative vehicles should prevent anticompetitive behaviour in ticket distribution with the aim of having cheaper flights for air travellers in Europe.
Another topic, which the Report and the amendments place under the spotlight, is the issue of dedicating enough resources to the Commission’s DG Competition, already mentioned by the Rapporteur. I agree that attention should be given to reallocate the needed resources to the European Commission on this point. However, as already outlined in some amendments including my own, I also believe that this should go hand-in-hand with a strict and transparent separation between the departments that draw up guidelines, and those that have the responsibility to apply those guidelines in specific cases. We need to avoid a situation in which the Competition DG acts as the prosecutor, the judge, the jury and the executioner.
Again, the discussion on transport, we need to be very careful when discussing this very important and essential sector. It remains vital for the economic survival of the different regions and communities in Europe. We should be wary of pursuing the opening up of the markets, just for the sake of liberalisation. Allowing private entries should not be an end in itself. We need to assure that this service of basic economic interest is guaranteed at affordable prices, in all the regions of the EU. This applies especially for insular, peripheral, and sparsely populated regions of the EU, and is of course in my view being reflected in the compromises being drawn up by the Rapporteur. When analysing liberalisation options, we need to make sure that all social standards are respected, for the sake of those working in the sector, as well as consumers. Sadly, there are experiences that have very often shown other results.
Finally, I am also glad that the amendments submitted are keeping up the pressure on having a strong reference towards competition policy and the area of agriculture. We are too often hearing of the huge discrepancy that exists, between the food prices being offered to the end consumer, and the price being offered to farmers for their products. I am glad that this is being tackled, both through the amendments and the compromises. I support EU action that keeps in mind the survival of small-scale farmers and the welfare of end consumers alike.