The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has announced the six themes that it will focus on over the next two years. These have thus been included in the 2016-2017 ACM Agenda. The six themes are:
- Healthy collaborations in health care
- Energy markets in transition
- Online consumers
- Ports and transport
- Clear prices and conditions
- Government & free markets
“Energy, health care, internet: these are services that consumers cannot live without. And these markets are very dynamic at the moment. That is why we have included them in the 2016-2017 edition of our ACM Agenda. We also promote clear prices and conditions for consumers, whether they are buying a car or concert tickets,” says Chris Fonteijn, Chairman of the Board of ACM. “We stand up for businesses that are harmed by unfair competition from government enterprises or policies that disrupt the market. We wish to raise awareness of competition rules among businesses. As part of that effort, ports and transport receive special attention from us because of their economic importance. Businesses that violate the rules will be dealt with. That is how we plan to implement our mission over the next two years: creating opportunities and options for businesses and consumers.” ACM has selected these topics based on complaints filed with consumer information portal ConsuWijzer, consultations with businesses and consumer organizations, and on ACM’s own investigations.
Join the discussion
ACM invites everyone to join the discussions about all of the themes of the 2016-2017 ACM Agenda. One way to do so is to go to the website denkmee.acm.nl. We are interested in your ideas about the causes or solutions to consumer problems. Or perhaps you have a valuable tip-off about a potential cartel agreement? You have until February 20 to share your knowledge, experiences, and insights with ACM officials directly. Please note that the website denkmee.acm.nl is in Dutch, and that all of the discussions will thus also be held in Dutch.
More information about the six themes of the 2016-2017 ACM Agenda:
Healthy collaborations in health care
Various developments in the health care market have direct and indirect effects on patients and the insured. Collaborations between health care providers can sometimes benefit consumers, but sometimes they do not. However, some forms of cooperation lead to market behavior that does not benefit patients and the insured such as price-fixing agreements or unnecessarily restricting health-care provider options. ACM wishes to offer room for collaborations in the health care market that offer benefits to consumers, for example, if they improve health care affordability or the quality of treatments.
Energy markets in transition
Nifty apps that tell you when to turn on your washing machine because the wind is blowing. Generating your own energy using solar panels, and storing that energy in batteries. Thanks to innovations such as these, consumers are able to take more and more control over their energy bills. The energy transition has a major impact on consumers, but also on energy companies and network operators. ACM regulates energy markets in transition, where affordability, security of supply and sustainability are central.
Digitalization offers consumers and businesses opportunities, as it leads to new products and services. Today, consumers are, for example, able to watch their favorite series whenever and wherever they want. Yet, digitalization also poses risks. When services are bundled, it may create switching problems. If you have a bundle, and you are dissatisfied with one of the services in that bundle, you are less likely to switch. ACM wishes that consumers are able to benefit from the opportunities that digitalization offers, and, at the same time, are able to surf the Internet safely. ACM assesses whether companies strengthen their market positions on the Internet by using personal data, and what risks are associated with that, for example, privacy risks for online consumers.
Ports and transport
The Dutch ports, especially the Port of Rotterdam, are key drivers of the Dutch economy. Companies that operate in these ports work together a lot, and with success. And cooperation is definitely needed if they want to process the goods quickly and efficiently, and to transport them from A to B. However, collaborations can also go too far, for example, if companies fix prices that they charge their customers, or if they share the market amongst themselves. ACM wishes that companies in the ports and those that are active in the port-related transport market compete fairly with one another so that customers pay the best possible price, and that the industry continues to innovate. Because of multiple reports about the sector and because of their economic importance, ports and transport will be receiving special attention from us over the next couple of years.
Clear prices and conditions
These days, consumers are able to choose from many different options, and their options just keep on growing. But are consumers also able to make the right choice? That is only possible if prices and conditions are clear. With some products however, consumers only find out during the purchasing process that more and more costs need to be added. Think of service fees when purchasing concert tickets or when picking up a new car. ACM wishes that companies inform consumers before the actual purchase about the price and all additional costs, as well as about what they can and cannot expect from the product. That way, consumers are able to make a well-informed decision.
Government & free markets
The Dutch government is a key player in the Dutch economy. The government introduces laws and rules, it regulates, and it stimulates the economy. However, it is also active in markets, acting as businesses, as owners/shareholders of companies, and as clients. The government thus also participates in the market process. The roles and rules must be clear to every market participant. ACM oversees local governments that are active on markets. ACM informs governments about the effects of their policies on competition and the markets. And ACM protects business owners against unfair competition from government businesses.
What else does ACM do?
In addition to the themes that are on the ACM Agenda, ACM deals with many other topics, all in the interest of businesses and consumers. And then there are of course the unforeseen, current events: not all of tomorrow’s problems are on ACM’s radar. For the latest news, visit our website.