Cartel Office Ruling Shows that EU Transport Commissioner Vălean’s New MDMS Plans Will Be Anti-Competitive


In a historic decision last week, the German Federal Cartel Office ruled that certain practices and contractual clauses in rail ticketing imposed by the dominant rail operator Deutsche Bahn (DB) are unlawful and anti-competitive, representing an abuse of market power.

  1. At the same time, the EU Commission (EC) has been working on a new Multimodal Digital Mobility Services (MDMS) Regulation. Back in 2021, it identified that “planning and buying tickets for multimodal journeys is much too often too cumbersome”. The Inception Impact Assessment stressed the need “to establish frameworks for commercial agreements for services  ‘re-selling’ mobility products”.
  2. The Cartel Office backed up the EC’s original goals, ruling last week that mobility platforms cannot offer consumers “comparative information on … different transport operators” or the “option of integrated ticketing” “… without including Deutsche Bahn’s offers” and other relevant data.
  3. HOWEVER, EU Transport Commissioner Vălean recently did a U-Turn, watering down the EC’s original MDMS plans. It is noticeable how DB’s lobby association said her new MDMS changes “strike the right balance” 1.
  4. Therefore – based on the German Cartel Office’s Ruling last week – it is very likely that the only balance that Commissioner Vălean’s new MDMS plans will strike is to continue to allow state rail incumbents to abuse their market power.
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