ACM highlights its 2013 key priorities

The new Authority for Consumers and Markets ("ACM") highlighted the key priorities it will pursue during the rest of the year. It will seek to address problems in the markets for housing, medical supplies, telecommunications, and energy. The ACM also emphasized its goal to safeguard and nurture the values of fair competition, investment and innovation, and consumer welfare.

Specific markets highlighted – housing, medical supplies, telecommunications, and energy

In relation to the housing market, the ACM seeks to improve competition and transparency in the market chain. Expected challenges include the reduction in competition of the mortgage market, developments in the rental market, as well as innovation and entry barriers in the estate agent business.

In the market for medical supplies, the ACM prioritized addressing the problem of high purchasing costs for drugs and medical equipment. Particularly, the ACM will target specific pricing and marketing strategies used by suppliers.

Focusing on telecommunications, the ACM expects to pursue this year an examination of market developments to assess whether they have led to increased competition and consumer benefits.

The ACM will help the integration of the European energy market by drafting new regulation and ensuring that the existing national regulations encourage network operators to meet the needs of producers. In addition, the ACM will finalize this year the draft method decision for the regulatory period 2014-2016, which seeks to bring stability to the market and give investors certainty.

Specific values highlighted – transparency, fair competition, investment and innovation, and consumer welfare

To promote transparency, the ACM will publish an online knowledge bank that will help businesses understand the application of competition law to sustainability initiatives. In addition, the ACM will focus on raising tariff transparency in the telecommunications and energy sectors, as well as in the travel industry and for online games.

In terms of fair competition, the ACM will focus on competition between private companies and government supported economic activities. The ACM will increase awareness and conduct audits under the 2012 Dutch Act on Government and Free Markets.

Seeking to nurture investment and innovation, the ACM will focus on broadband internet. This year it will draft the first market analysis decision, following the objectives set out in the European Digital Agenda.

The ACM will continue to further the ultimate goal of safeguarding consumer protection by addressing aggressive sellers and their strategies of intimidation, deception, and unsolicited approaches. The ACM will also continue to provide information to help consumers via ConsuWijzer.

The ACM plans to continue highlighting its key priorities every two years. In the fall of 2013, the ACM will publish a draft version for the 2014-2015 agenda for public consultation.