1. The Energy Transition
The current focus of Dutch energy policy is transitioning to a low carbon energy system. The ACM believes it has a role to play in this transition, including by protecting vulnerable consumers from major shocks in the energy market. Specific actions the ACM intends to take are:
- a stricter oversight of energy suppliers and energy tariffs;
- new guidance on termination fees in energy contracts to incentivize energy suppliers to offer fixed price energy contracts to consumers; and
- measures to encourage energy companies to make smarter use of the electricity grid.
In line with its announced actions, we expect the ACM to prioritize any complaints it receives concerning potential competition or consumer law violations in the energy sector.
2. Digital economy
The ACM wants to protect consumers and businesses from the perceived market power of large tech companies and from online deception and manipulation. Key announced measures for 2023 include:
- combatting fake reviews and “dark patterns” such as misleading countdown timers;
- tackling deception and manipulation of consumers in games, such as aggressive marketing aimed at children;
- cracking down on alleged unfair behaviour by online platforms; and
- taking actions concerning cloud service “vendor lock-in”, in particular in the healthcare sector.
The ACM’s stated priorities are in line with the comments it submitted in the context of the EU Fitness Check on Digital Fairness, in which the ACM laid out its view on desired changes to EU consumer law legislation.
The ACM is concerned that the negative effects of current modes of production and consumption are passed on to the environment and the economically vulnerable. In the coming years, the ACM intends to contribute to a more sustainable economy by focusing on the following topics:
- addressing misleading sustainability claims about products and services;
- providing competing companies flexibility to conclude sustainability agreements;
- exploring opportunities for more sustainable parcel delivery; and
- investigating ways of achieving 'fair' prices that incorporate all social costs of a product.
The ACM thus remains keen to be perceived as a European frontrunner concerning sustainability collaborations, as described in our October 2022 newsletter.
This article was published in the Competition Newsletter of February 2023. Other articles in this newsletter: