Following on the heels of its previous attempt to introduce commercial independent rights societies is now investigating Europe’s rights societies for restrictive practices. The EU argues that the exclusive right exerted by each society to collect within their own market for online rights may be restrictive and counter to EU free trade regulations.
The problem that the EU seems to be blissfully ignorant is that even if all societies were fined, the gap is not suddenly going to be filled by new commercial societies. That process will take a long time, based upon them acquiring a stable of songwriters. Even the more aggressive route of acquiring large catalogues via mass purchase will take time.
So the alternative is that a handful of the existing societies will simply rise to the top and become de-facto pan-European licensees. i.e. the societies with the most aggressive commercial divisions will win out and heavily consolidate the market – the exact opposite of what the EU claims to want.
Many many years ago a major record label actually tried to get one European collection society to collect across Europe on its behalf. The move threatened to undermine the entire reciprocal agreement model that EU rights societies work within and in the end failed to take off. The EU is (albeit probably inadvertently) threatening to create a Ground Hog Day.