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ACM presents its strategy: ‘Times like these call for a strong regulator’

‘In times of economic crisis, it is critical to have a strong regulator,’ emphasizes Chris Fonteijn, Chairman of the Board of the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM), during the presentation of ACM’s strategy. ‘Competition and consumer protection are vital to our economy. Only when consumers and businesses have confidence in markets are they willing to invest and spend money. That is what ACM wishes to promote. This cannot be realized in the short run, but this is a goal that has our undivided attention for the next few years.’

‘Consumers are central’

The release of the ACM strategy marks the first six months since the merger between the Netherlands Consumer Authority, the Netherlands Competition Authority (NMa), and the Netherlands Independent Post and Telecommunications Authority (OPTA). A draft version of the ACM strategy was discussed at great length internally, but also externally with the corporate sector, scholars, trade associations, and consumer associations. ‘To us, it is about the interests of consumers. If businesses actively compete for the favor of customers, consumers have something to choose from. In that environment, we keep an eye on the different, sometimes conflicting public interests that are at stake, for example with regard to competition and sustainability,’ says Mr. Fonteijn. ‘We look from a broader perspective at what is needed to tackle the underlying market problem. The impact of our actions is central.’

Core values

In its strategy document, ACM also defines its core values: independence, openness, and professionalism. ‘ACM keeps a close watch on both businesses and the government. If so needed, we will take measures that are unpopular. That is why ACM’s independent position is so crucial. However, being independent does not mean we take decisions in some ivory tower. That is why we also emphasize openness. In a professional organization, there should be room for discussion, both internally and externally. That helps raise the quality of our work.’

Mr. Fonteijn stresses the importance of indications to its oversight efforts. ‘I would like to hear from you, consumers and businesses, what problems you encounter. You can let us know by visiting our website, ConsuWijzer, or by contacting us through Twitter or by phone. Your input helps us achieve our mission: promoting opportunities and options for businesses and consumers.’