The candidacy of Benoît Coeuré to take the presidency of the Competition Authority validated by Parliament

The economist’s candidacy is confirmed. Benoît Cœuré received, Wednesday, January 12, the approval of Parliament to take the presidency of the Competition Authority and detailed before the deputies and senators three “Priorities” for his tenure.

After being heard by the Senate Economic Affairs Committee, then that of the National Assembly, the former member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank (2012-2019) received a favorable vote from both bodies.

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The 52-year-old economist, little known to the general public but author of a career “Shiny” (Polytechnique, National School of Statistics and Economic Administration), in the opinion of many parliamentarians, thus succeeds Isabelle de Silva for a five-year term.

Appointed in 2016, the latter wanted to come back for a second term but had learned in the fall that she would not be renewed. While waiting for the appointment of his successor, it was his vice-president Emmanuel Combe who was acting.

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Three priorities

During Wednesday’s hearings, Benoît Cœuré also presented his roadmap. The economist put forward three priorities for his mandate. He wishes, in the first place, “Strengthen the independence, expertise and reaction capacity of the Authority”, in particular by shortening the processing times for files.

Another priority: “Continue digital work”, an area where he regretted the weakness of the workforce at the French competition gendarme. The future boss of the Authority wishes, in particular, to strengthen the ” cooperation “ with other sectoral regulators such as Arcom (formerly CSA) or the National Commission for Informatics and Liberties (CNIL). Finally, “My last subject is competitiveness and purchasing power”, underlined Mr. Coeuré.

“In the public debate, we often perceive competition as privileging the consumer to the detriment of the company. It seems to me that this is a somewhat artificial opposition ”, he said, “First of all because the consumer is often a business”. “A certain number of decisions of the Authority have benefited companies”, he observed.

Careful on the proposed merger between TF1 and M6

Among the burning issues that the new president will find on his arrival, the merger project between TF1 and M6 figures prominently. Asked about the subject, Benoît Cœuré was cautious. “I will not give a conclusive opinion, the case is under investigation”, he said at the outset during his hearing by the Senate Economic Affairs Committee in the early morning.

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“I think that the debate can only be settled by the facts, by a quantified, empirical, in-depth analysis, through market tests”, he added, however.

“This is an operation that is not straightforward, when we look at the potential market shares of the new group, especially in the advertising market. But there are other considerations to take into account, which can only emerge from market tests. “

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Called upon by parliamentarians on a variety of subjects, from health to agriculture to web giants, Benoît Cœuré insisted that “The fundamental mission of the Authority, in all sectors, [était] to protect the little ones against the big ones ”.

The World with AFP