AUTHORS: Sean Ennis & Amelia Fletcher
The year 2019 was a turning point in the debate around how to address competition issues in digital platform markets. At the start of the year, the focus was on reform of competition law. By July, there had been calls – on both sides of the Atlantic – for pro-competitive ex ante regulation.
This paper considers these developments through the lens of three influential expert reports, from the EC, UK and US. While the reports offer similar diagnoses of the underlying economic drivers of competition concerns in digital platform markets, they reach somewhat different policy conclusions. The EC report, which was commissioned first, highlights recommendations for antitrust. While it recognises that a regulatory regime may be needed in the longer run, this option is not considered in any detail. By contrast, the UK and US expert reports argue strongly for ex ante regulation.
There are other differences too. While the US and EC experts were inclined to relax or reverse burdens of proof for both mergers and abuse of dominance, albeit in specified circumstances only, the UK experts did not recommend this. This paper compares these reports under the categories of mergers, dominance, data, regulation, and international.
CITATION: Ennis, S. & Fletcher, A. (2020). Developing international perspectives on digital competition policy. CCP Working Paper 20-05.