INTERVIEW: How to make competition policy fit for the digital age?

INTERVIEW: How to make competition policy fit for the digital age - concurrences

Alexandre de Streel (CERRE and University of Namur), conducted an interview of Jorge Padilla (Senior Managing Director and Head -Compass Lexecon Europe, Brussels) and Jacques Crémer (Professor-University of Toulouse I) in Concurrences. They discuss new issues raised by digital platforms and analyse how they could be dealt with by competition policy. 

In its new Digital Strategy adopted in February 2020, the European Commission announces a review of the competition rules so that they’re fit for the digital age. “We need to reconsider market definition. It is now a static notion that needs to be adapted to incorporate the dynamic competitive threats that platforms face from potential competitors,” said Jorge Padilla during the interview. 

The Commission will also explore the need for ex-ante rules to ensure that markets characterised by large platforms with significant network effects acting as gatekeepers remain fair and contestable. “There seems to be an emerging consensus that remedying anticompetitive behaviour in digital platform markets is a complex exercise and that cease and desist orders are unlikely to restore conditions of competition. Hence, ex-ante regulation may be needed”, explained Padilla. 

But it is a complex question. “I have seen very little precise thinking about how it would be done, by which type of agency(ies), with what type of power, what type of mandate and what type of incentives,“ warned Jacques Crémer. 

“There still is a lot of work to be done to better understand the economics of the digital world. In the meantime, all involved, lawyers, economists, authorities, firms, will make mistakes, but it would be a worse mistake to do nothing,” concluded Jacques Crémer.