News Media Europe (NME) has submitted a contribution looking at how competition policy can be modernised to promote open, fair and transparent markets in the online digital ecosystem, to the benefit of informed citizens. You can find NME’s full contribution here.
The rise of certain digital business models, namely so-called online platforms, challenges competition policy and the ability of competition authorities to fulfil their oversight and enforcement mandates.
NME stresses the need to modernise competition tools and processes, to the benefit of markets and consumers alike, by adapting existing them to the new structural contexts of digital markets, in line with existing principles that inform competition policy.
The submission provides an overview of competition policy challenges for the news media industry and considers how to better shape the processes of market definition, the assessment of market power, and the assessment of anti-competitive foreclosure (abuse of dominance) in certain digital contexts.
Furthermore, the submission also considers how competition remedies, the control of concentration between undertakings, and cooperation between otherwise competing undertakings, can accordingly also be adapted to take full account of the era of digitisation.
NME issues the following recommendations to the European Commission:
NME welcomes the policy dialogue on shaping EU competition policy for the digital era and stresses the need to not overlook competition challenges relating to other policy fields notably as regards taxation, publicly funded entities, consumer protection, privacy, and net neutrality;
Recommends a critical reflection on the current choice and effectiveness of competition remedies used in certain cases involving online platforms, given the observable systemic patterns of anti-competitive behaviour;
Recommends defining a wider market for data to ensure a policy approach that reflects market reality and that the process of defining relevant markets focuses more on threats of potential and future competition;
Recommends that market power be assessed through alternative indicators and that competition authorities be critical of assumptions about contestability in digital markets, and about the role that data can play thereof;
Recommends a critical reflection on whether the commercial practices of certain platforms, related to data and notably in the context of the GDPR, and the creation of walled-gardens, amount to anti-competitive foreclosure;
Recommends that concerns about slow responsiveness by authorities in the assessment of anti-competitive foreclosure be complemented by a greater focus on the preventive arm of competition policy;
Recommends that the control of concentration between undertakings in the digital economy is improved by reviewing how to define markets, assess market power and anti-competitive foreclosure, as per the previous recommendations;
Recommends a critical reflection on the lawful framework for cooperation between otherwise competing undertakings in the digital economy as means to address inherent imbalances in bargaining power in relation to online platforms.