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Benelux competition authorities issue joint memo on digital challenges

A joint memorandum of the Belgian, Dutch and Luxembourg (Benelux) competition authorities has highlighted challenges faced by competition authorities in a digital world. They say they cannot address all the challenges faced by competition authorities and focus on merger control, the need for guidance in fast moving digital markets, and the debate on an ex ante instrument providing for binding commitments without the establishment of an infringement. On mergers, they say there is a fear that dominant platforms can purchase small start-ups with a quickly growing user base before competition authorities can properly review their competitive impact in a merger control assessment. They call on the European Commission’s competition directorate to commission an economic study on merger control in the digital sector, which would analyse past acquisitions to see which criteria were applied for a review and, of those that were reviewed, if competition authorities had access to sufficient information to investigate the relevant theories of harm and efficiencies. On digital and other fast-moving markets, the joint memo says that competition authorities must develop the ability and willingness to offer ex ante guidance on specific issues before they (and the courts) have developed relevant case law. They also say: “We propose to examine the possibility of developing an approach that would allow the European Commission and member state competition authorities to sidestep the infringement route in a much less formal and fast track commitment procedure.” Finally they envisage an ex ante tool that allows competition authorities to impose proportionate remedies on dominant companies to prevent competition problems, rather than relying on after-the-fact enforcement. The memo is a 7 page paper with references and is at Read more

  • Monday, 21 October 2019

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