Digital platform regulation: What are the proposals across Europe?

Calls to ‘do something’ about tech giants are getting louder. Some suggest that breaking them up is the best way to go, but such strong intervention is absent from the most developed regulatory proposals seen so far. Taking into account recent prominent reports from (or for) the European Commission and several national competition authorities, what are the main proposals on the table, and are they plausible?

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Labour markets: a blind spot for merger control?

Recent months have seen increased discussion of merger control in Europe. One central question is whether the impact on labour markets should be examined directly, or indirectly in terms of product market concentration. We shed light on the main arguments in this debate, and discuss some of the challenges that would be faced by competition authorities if they were to consider labour markets concentration in their merger assessments

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New kid (needed) on the block? Vertical Block Exemption Regulation in the digital age

The recent rise of ecommerce has triggered debate around vertical agreements between suppliers and distributors/retailers. Against this backdrop, is the European Commission’s current Vertical Block Exemption Regulation (VBER) still fit for purpose, or should it be revised? Do its Guidelines on Vertical Restraints (VGL) also need to change? Drawing on Oxera’s response to the Commission’s 2019 consultation, we discuss a few areas where revision and further guidance might be welcome

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Sharing is caring: supporting the roll-out of 5G networks

Early 5G services are being launched in major towns and cities around the world, providing enhanced mobile broadband services to users. However, further investment in new network infrastructure will be required to support widespread deployment of 5G and take full advantage of the technology’s transformational capabilities. Given the significant costs involved, network sharing agreements may be increasingly important. Will this greater industry collaboration have an impact on head-to-head competition? If so, how should this tension be assessed?

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The benefits of sharing, or sharing the benefits? Cartels and efficiencies in Hong Kong

Is a market-sharing agreement always an infringement of competition law, or could it be justified on the basis that it generates efficiencies? What analysis and evidence is required to answer this question? These were the questions facing the Hong Kong Competition Tribunal in only the second enforcement action brought before it. We look at the economic analysis that was instrumental in helping the Tribunal to decide the case

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How do non-poaching agreements distort competition?

Agreements between firms not to hire each other’s workers have recently come under the radar of competition authorities, particularly in the USA. However, there is a question about whether labour markets come within the remit of competition authorities, and whether it is their role to intervene. If it is, how can tools developed in competition economics help in such cases?

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Fairness and competition in online markets: friends or foes?

Fairness is emerging as an increasingly important policy goal across sectors. We set out a framework for assessing fairness concerns, and examine the relationship between the aims of competition policy and fairness in current debates. Do the European Commission’s platform-to-business initiative and reputation systems for sharing platforms lead to fairer processes? And do online price differentiation and negotiations between platforms and content creators lead to fair outcomes? What is the role of competition in all of this?

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Death of an old star…evolution of a new one?

‘Superstar firms’ are increasingly dominating markets. Network effects may consolidate the position of these firms, but they can also help new entrants to undermine them. In some markets, network effects will both dampen competition ‘within’ the market and spur competition ‘for’ the market. Francesca Arduini, Oxera Analyst, argues that we can employ the framework of evolutionary game theory to derive four key policy insights into this topic

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Dealing with digital dominance: insights from Germany

The German government is looking at how competition law can better address abuse of dominance in digital markets. As part of this, an academic study has recommended giving authorities powers to intervene earlier and in additional settings where large platforms or valuable datasets are involved. How can these proposed reforms improve market outcomes while limiting the scope for unintended consequences?

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Sharing too much? Information exchange in the digital economy

Is an excess of information hurting competition? Although there are some well-established, economically founded principles for assessing the exchange of information between competitors, the general increase in information availability in the digital economy presents new challenges. We revisit the economic principles that can be used to understand the likely effects, both beneficial and malign, of information sharing, and how competition authorities could react to these trends

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