Two-sided market definition: some common misunderstandings

The European Commission is consulting on updating its 1997 Market Definition Notice, which provides important guidance on identifying relevant markets in competition cases. One hotly debated topic is defining markets for two-sided platforms. We discuss some common misunderstandings on this topic, including on how to apply the hypothetical monopolist test to digital platform markets

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Changing tides: how consumers and merchants are redefining the payment experience

Retail payments bring together retailers and consumers, and the two-sided nature of this market means that the design of payment methods must reflect the needs of both sides. Today, the competitive landscape for retail payments in Europe is rapidly transforming due to changing consumer preferences, technological progress, regulatory intervention and, most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic. How are the expectations of consumers and merchants redefining the payment experience?

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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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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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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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Retail payments: a changing European landscape

The landscape for retail payments in Europe is going through a period of considerable upheaval due to technological developments and entry by new providers, supported by regulatory changes. What exactly are these changes, and what are their implications for the competitive dynamics and market outcomes in retail payments?

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Home advantage? Who wins in multi-sided platform competition?

What do Google, Mastercard and Amazon have in common with early auction houses or the traditional village matchmaker? One answer is that they are all multi-sided platforms (MSPs). Much has been done in the last decade to try to understand the economics of such platforms. Yet current research is still uncovering new findings about pricing, multi-homing and the competitive dynamics of platforms—some of which can seem counterintuitive

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Are competition appeals taking too long?

The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has asked the government for additional powers to investigate firms and intervene more quickly in markets. At the same time, it wants to limit the scope for affected parties to appeal its decisions. Mark Friend, Partner and head of the London antitrust group at Allen & Overy LLP, considers whether the CMA’s arguments for reform are convincing and supported by the evidence from previous cases

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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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State aid spotlight on tax: the General Court’s judgments on Fiat and Starbucks

In 2015, the European Commission ordered Starbucks and Fiat to each pay €20m–€30m in the Netherlands and Luxembourg, respectively, as their tax arrangements were found to constitute illegal state aid. On 24 September 2019, the General Court upheld the Commission’s Fiat decision, but annulled the Starbucks decision. What were the key economic issues in these cases, and what are the implications of the judgments?

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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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