The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) in 2022 will pay extra attention to three key priorities: the energy transition & sustainability, the digital economy, and the housing market. The housing market is a newly-added key priority, where ACM wishes to help find solutions to the current housing shortage. The two other key priorities (energy transition & sustainability, and the digital economy) had already been on ACM’s Agenda for the past two years, and remain relevant today. The energy transition has been expanded with sustainability. Sustainability also plays an increasingly larger role in other areas where ACM is active, such as investigations into sustainability claims with regard to products.
Martijn Snoep, Chairman of the Board of ACM, adds: “Every two years, we examine what topics require extra attention. In that context, the digital economy and the energy transition & sustainability will remain key priorities. The housing market has now been added to that list. In our focus on all three key priorities, our guiding principle is, as always, ensuring that markets work well for people and businesses, now and in the future. We do so by protecting people and businesses against misleading practices, manipulation, and abuse of dominance, among other things.”
The energy transition & sustainability
The energy market is under a lot of pressure these days: scarcity, geopolitical tensions, and a major push towards increased sustainability. ACM has given energy companies more financial leeway for investing in the transition towards sustainable energy. In 2022, ACM will assess whether these opportunities have actually been used. ACM also gives energy companies more scope for experiments, for example, with hydrogen. In addition, ACM will continue to take enforcement action against misleading sustainability claims in the energy sector.
ACM will also ensure that consumers continue to be supplied electricity and natural gas if their suppliers go bankrupt. Over the past six months, however, ACM struggled with its limited arsenal of tools to protect consumers against, for example, the financial consequences. That is why, in 2022, ACM will evaluate the use of its regulatory tools with regard to bankruptcies and the consequences thereof.
The digital economy
Consumers must be able to navigate the digital economy with confidence. The digital economy carries risks for consumers such as abuse of dominance, and misleading practices through algorithms and undue influencing. That is why, in 2022, ACM will continue taking action against unfair reviews and fake likes, among other misleading practices. We confront online providers with their use of unfair conditions.
Having a well-functioning and competitive network is of vital importance to the digital economy. In 2022, ACM will decide on access for telecom providers without networks of their own to fixed networks. ACM will also publish guidelines regarding competition rules for IT suppliers in health care.
The housing market
The Dutch housing market is extremely tight at the moment. Many stakeholders in that market need to step up to the plate in order to improve the functioning of the market. ACM does its part by tightening its oversight of rental agencies and realtors. In addition, ACM will carry out a study into market power on the municipal-land market for residential construction. The study will primarily focus on plots that can be developed, but where no development is planned.
ACM wishes to ensure markets work well for everyone
ACM wishes to ensure that markets work well for all people and businesses, now and in the future. That means that ACM will seek solutions that lead to lasting improvements to the market. ACM does so by not just enforcing compliance with the rules among businesses, but also by educating people about how they can exercise their rights themselves. Over the next few months, ACM will devote more attention to vulnerable individuals or individuals whose level of self-reliance is lower than average, for example by making it easier to contact us, and by working together with social workers. We keep on looking for new ways to include reports and insights from as many people as possible in all of our actions. In that way, we avoid missing market problems or choosing solutions that only work for one group of people. That is how we hope to help create markets that work well for everyone.