Scholarly publishing: EUA asks European Commission to investigate lack of competition

06 November 2018

The EUA Council adopted a statement on 26 October 2018 expressing its concern about the lack of transparency and competition in the scholarly publishing business sector in Europe. The statement, addressed to the European Commission, asks for an investigation to clarify if competition rules guarantee fair competition market conditions.

EUA sent the statement as an informal complaint to the Directorate-General for Competition. It was drafted by Universities Denmark, the Danish Rectors’ Conference, and subsequently reviewed and validated by all the national rectors’ conferences that make up the EUA Council.

European universities’ concerns stem from an increasing concentration of the sector in a few large companies; strict confidentiality clauses in the contracts leading to a lack of transparency in pricing; and a clear asymmetry in negotiating power between research organisations and publishers. EUA is also concerned that digitalisation and technological change have not led to more competition but have, instead, exacerbated the situation.

EUA believes that the current state of publishing hinders the development of true open access of scientific publications in Europe – a declared priority of the European Commission and European universities. It may also inhibit the implementation of “Plan S” signed by research funding organisations and the European Commission to make publicly-funded scholarly publications openly available starting in 2020.

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