The Federal Council fights against the "Swiss supplement" – Switzerland: standard



The federal council calls the fight against high Swiss prices. Companies that purchase goods abroad no longer have to pay a "Switzerland surcharge".

With this in mind, the Federal Council opened the consultation on Wednesday to amend the antitrust law. It is an indirect counter-proposal for the fair price initiative. This goes too far for the Federal Council, but it recognizes the fundamental problem.

The level of Swiss wages and rents only partly explains the high Swiss prices, he notes in the report for submission. Another cause is the unjustly high prices that companies ask customers abroad in Switzerland.

The Federal Council wants to put an end to this "surcharge for Switzerland". For anti-trust companies, the antitrust law already contains requirements designed to prevent discrimination. Now the concept of relative market power must be introduced into law.

Missing alternatives

Companies that depend on other companies are relatively powerful because there are no adequate and reasonable alternatives. Relatively powerful companies would no longer be able to supply their Swiss customers exclusively via intra-group channels in order to enforce excessive prices.

In order to prevent distortions of competition, customers should in principle also be allowed to purchase goods and services abroad at local prices and conditions. Whether the requirements are met must be assessed on a case-by-case basis, according to the report.

According to the Federal Council, the main objective of the initiative is thus fulfilled: to strengthen the freedom of procurement of Swiss companies abroad in order to facilitate parallel imports. However, other requirements of the initiative go too far for the Federal Council.

It also covers the business relationship between two companies in Switzerland, even if none of them dominates the market. In addition, suppliers must also be protected against relatively powerful customers.

No freedom on the internet

According to the Federal Council, this would have a negative effect on the national economy. Competition authorities and courts would in effect become "price control bodies", he writes. Moreover, a company in the country can hardly estimate which trade partners it is relatively market power. That would affect legal certainty.

The Federal Council also does not want to intervene in online trading. The initiative requires a fundamental ban on private geo-blocking, which prevents purchases on foreign sites. According to the Federal Council, such a prohibition could hardly be enforced without a law on the statute of the law and would therefore not be effective.

Half-satisfied promoters

Behind the initiative "Stop the island with high prices – for fair prices" are the Foundation for Consumer Protection, Gastrosuisse and the trade association Swissmechanic, which unites 1,400 SMEs in the machine, electrical and metal industries. The initiators welcome the scope of the counter-proposal. But they demand that the Federal Council also take action against geo-blocking.

The referendum was submitted last December. The consultation on the indirect counter-proposal will take place until November 22, 2018. The federal council has until 11 June 2019 to send a message to Parliament. (Ta)

Created: 22.08.2018, 14:57

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