This blogpost is part of a series of short commentaries on the European Commission’s proposals for a Digital Markets Act and a Digital Services Act, released on 15 December 2020. Stay tuned for more.
Competition law enforcement takes too long
The Commission has heavily fined large technology companies for breach of competition rules in recent years. However, it is common ground that the protection of competition in the digital sector is at risk. There are gaps in the existing rules, but one of the main difficulties is the fast-changing pace of digital markets which is at odds with the time it takes to complete case-by-case full-fledged investigations.
Cases that take years to decide risk being all for naught if the practices harm competition in an irreparable manner while the investigation is ongoing. However, streamlining investigations in the digital sector is not easy. Cases tend to raise new and complex issues and the authorities always need to gather solid evidence to prove that the rules have been breached and follow due process.
By Viktorija Morozovaite
The Google AdSense decision has come out on the 20th of March, 2019. With imposition of €1.49 billion fine it marked an end to the third European Commission’s investigation into tech giant’s practices, each resulting in spectacular penalties (together rounding up to €8.2 billion – a sum equivalent to Benelux countries’ annual contribution to the EU budget) and advancing the debate between competition practitioners and academics worldwide. Admittedly, the outcome did not come as a surprise to many – over the past decade, European Commission seem to have become the nemesis of giant tech companies with investigations into practices of Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon. While the full decision is not published yet and it is difficult to comment on its merits, this blog post aims at distilling some of the ongoing issues, placing the decision in the broader context.
By the end of January 2016 the public consultation by the Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs on the new Guidelines Competition and Sustainability will have closed. The Minister will then take into account the remarks made, for example those by the Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands, and finalize the Guidelines calling upon the ACM – the Dutch Competition Authority – to take into account sustainability-benefits when assessing an otherwise anti-competitive agreement. This is quite revolutionary.