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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How does social media shape purposeful business?

Society is playing a growing role in shaping the way that businesses operate. Reflecting this, have become platforms to highlight good and bad business practice and help people coordinate responses. To what extent does this pressure influence core business operations? —and therefore the future of business? Tim Hogg, a behavioural economist at Oxera, takes a look at the role of social media in the context of thinking Beyond the Bottom Line.

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Political control of state-owned utilities in the UK

The UK Labour Party’s proposal to nationalise core utilities has renewed debate about whether nationalisation is a good or a bad thing. Tim Tutton, Associate at the Centre for Competition Policy (University of East Anglia, UK), takes a different approach. Focusing on the issue of political control, he explores whether lessons can be learned—from both the nationalised era and the privatised era—and how any future (potential) nationalisations might be made to work more effectively than in the past

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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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EU broadband: co-investing in a faster future

Rolling out very high-capacity networks (VHCNs) across Europe to deal with ever-increasing broadband demands is challenging. To incentivise investment, the European Commission has introduced new conditions relating to co-investment agreements, including a promise (subject to certain conditions) not to regulate SMP operators that enter into an investment agreement with at least one other operator. Peter Culham, Senior Adviser, Felipe Flórez Duncan, Partner, and Michael Weekes, Senior Consultant, ask: is it enough to unlock investment in VHCNs?

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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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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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It’s what you know about who you know: market power in digital platforms

In the digital services market, platform operators compete for the attention of consumers. However, there are increasing concerns about their degree of market power, which can be difficult to assess using the traditional tools of competition and regulation. As calls for further regulation increase, authorities must ensure that their interventions do not lead to unintended consequences, such as reducing the gains that such platforms bring to society

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Consumer data in online markets

Businesses increasingly use consumer data to offer better and more targeted digital products and services. Many of these new business models rely on data to facilitate transactions and generate revenues in a way that was not previously possible. Access to personal data has understandably raised concerns about privacy. Based on a study commissioned by Which?, we investigate the delicate balance between privacy and the value of digital services

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