Welcome Address by H.E. Dalia Grybauskaitė, President of Lithuania, to the Participants of the European Competition Day Conference in Vilnius

03 October 2013, Last updated at, 11:37 EEST
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author: Dž. G. Barysaitė

  Mr. Vice-President of the European Commission, Ladies and Gentlemen,
 
 It is my great pleasure to welcome all of you in Vilnius on the occasion of the European Competition Day.
 
Free competition is the driving force of the economy and the main precondition for consumer protection. It gives people the power of choice and helps businesses to excel. However, greed still blinds some managers to breach the EU antitrust legislation - cartels and abuses of dominant market position do still happen. Unless we do away with it in the EU, our consumers' choice, our economic freedoms will only be an illusion.

Competition lies at the core of the European Union. Enlargement of the EU substantially contributed to the spread of competition culture on the European continent. Competition rules and competition culture is steadily spreading around the world. They became part of the legal system and culture of rather different societies.

European Union is a market of 500 million people, proud of its high-quality products and services. Europe will grow and our people will be able to enjoy the full benefits of the single market if we continue enforcing competition rules. Let us make it very clear - there must be zero tolerance to cartels and other violations of antitrust laws in the EU. Public interest and the benefit of consumers must be the guiding imperative for every business - from transnational corporations to local craft shops.

This can only be achieved if we, all 28 countries, act as one. From Helsinki to Madrid, from Dublin to Athens, as European decisions are implemented, no back door should be left open. For example, more competition in the energy sector and lower dependence on dominant gas, electricity and oil suppliers will result in lower prices and make Europe's economy more competitive in global markets.

In this respect, I do hope that an agreement on the Commission's proposal for a directive on damages claim will make substantial progress during Lithuania's Presidency. This would make infringements even more expensive and unattractive by ensuring that not only fines but also compensations to consumers are paid.

I strongly believe that the spirit of competition was, is and will continue to be a crucial precondition of progress: knowing that a small start-up may compete with a huge multinational inspires and sets a green light to new and great ideas. And that is what I would like to wish you - fruitful discussions leading to great ideas for the benefit of all Europeans.
 
   Thank you for your attention.
 

Dalia Grybauskaitė, President of the Republic of Lithuania

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