Abuse, She Wrote

Jessica Fletcher and her fellow protagonists in whodunnit stories, such as Jane Marple and Hercule Poirot, knew the formula: find the motive of the suspect, and you have solved half the crime. Dr Gunnar Niels, Partner at Oxera, discusses how competition authorities sometimes behave as if they were in a detective novel by Agatha Christie or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, focusing on the intent of the dominant company.

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Flying through the storm: aligning merger control and state support

Many firms are facing financial difficulty as a result of COVID-19, and are receiving state support. However, we have not (yet) seen the predicted increase in merger activity. Is it preferable to provide state aid to companies in order to allow them to continue operating, or should we allow these ‘failing or flailing’ firms to be acquired by others? Which is the right tool to use, and could there be more alignment between them?

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What problems can the European Commission’s New Competition Tool fix?

On 2 June, the European Commission launched consultations on proposals for a New Competition Tool (NCT) and its Digital Services Act package. We look at the proposals for the NCT, drawing on lessons from the UK market investigations regime, and in particular the ability to use market investigations to act more quickly and effectively to remedy competition problems

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Catchment if you can: a practical guide to local competition analysis

Many markets involve local or regional competition between firms. Retailers, hospitals, airports, and even funeral directors compete for their customers locally. Empirical techniques for analysing competition in local markets have developed and become more sophisticated over time. But which techniques provide the most accurate assessment? We discuss and compare a range of practical methods that have been used in recent competition cases

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RIIO-2 Draft Determinations: what next?

On 9 July 2020, Ofgem published its Draft Determinations for the RIIO-2 price controls for the GB electricity transmission (ET), gas transmission (GT), and gas distribution (GD) sectors, and the electricity system operator (ESO).1 The price controls are due...

Paying up: the new economics of payment systems

Retail payments play an important role in the functioning of modern society. However, they are currently going through a period of upheaval due to changes in technology, consumer behaviour and regulation, and most recently the global COVID-19 pandemic. What are the underlying economics behind retail payment systems, and what are their implications for competition in the sector?

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Decarbonising transport: a just transition?

In March, the UK Department for Transport (DfT) published ‘Decarbonising Transport: Setting the Challenge’, a policy paper outlining current and planned policies needed to decarbonise the UK’s domestic transport sector. We provide a commentary on some of the DfT’s strategic priorities—the shift to active and public transport, as well as the decarbonisation of the passenger vehicle fleet. We then discuss some of the wider social implications raised by the proposed measures

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Engaging the disengaged: why does it matter, and why is it hard?

Why do consumers become disengaged from effective decision-making, and how can we improve engagement and market outcomes? Amelia Fletcher, Professor of Competition Policy at the University of East Anglia, UK, looks at the latest developments in this fast-moving area, and discusses a number of insights from her recent paper on disclosure and other tools for enhancing engagement

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