Big tech has been firmly in the sights of competition authorities around the world for a decade. The European Commission is consulting on a “New Competition Tool” which would give the EC sweeping regulatory powers to tackle perceived threats to the digital economy and possibly markets generally.
If adopted, the New Tool will be the most significant reform to EU competition law in over 30 years. Blurring the lines between competition and regulatory policy, the New Tool is intended to change the ‘rules of the game’. If adopted, it would enable the EC to step in and reinforce competition in markets suffering from, or prone to, structural competition problems before anti-competitive conduct occurs. The Tool would transform the regulation of markets, particularly digital markets, enabling the Commission to intervene in a far wider array of circumstances.
Our joint paper with Compass Lexecon entitled Who will guard the gatekeepers? sets out our analysis of:
- the problems that the EC is attempting to tackle;
- its proposed policy options;
- the challenges the Commission will need to overcome.
The Commission is expected to table legislative proposals in Q4 2020 with the Tool at the centre of the EU’s blockbuster Digital Services Act. Development of the Tool as well as much broader regulation of digital markets under the proposed Act is expected to unfold over the next few years. There is a lot to play for.