Zenith CC&P Current Awareness

National competition authorities seek stronger powers to impose remedies in digital markets

15 October 2019

Prof. Suzanne Rab

Zenith's Suzanne Rab writes:

National competition authorities in Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands have called for the European Commission to allow remedies to be imposed on companies operating in the digital sector without a finding of a breach of competition law.

A joint memorandum made public by the Benelux authorities states that the enforcers seek to further the debate on competition in digital markets and urge the Commission to introduce ex ante regulation and revise merger control rules.

The memo highlights that a challenge with the current EU antitrust system is that the rules apply ex post once there has been a finding of infringement.  They argue that intervention may come too late in digital markets once the market has tipped in favour of a dominant technology. They call for tougher ex ante powers to take action to pre-empt an adverse market outcome.

The authorities have also asked the Commission to conduct an economic study on merger control in digital markets to examine whether the current rules should be revised. They offer potential changes to EU merger control including a reversal of the burden of proof in digital mergers. This would require the acquirer to show that the merger is pro-competitive as the price for clearance. Currently, the Commission must show that the merger gives rise to a serious impediment to effective competition in order to prohibit it. 

The joint memorandum can be found here

Current Awareness

By the CC&P team