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OECD – Conference on Competition and the Digital Economy, Paris

Professor Hildebrand, Managing Partner EE&MC, participated June 3, 2019 in the OECD conference on Competition and the Digital Economy in Paris. With a view to informing the G7 Finance Ministers’ discussions on these issues, this event promoted an exchange of views and experience between policy makers, academics and competition authorities. 

Technologies enabling the collection and use of data have allowed innovative business models to emerge that offer significant consumer benefits. However, indicators, such as those developed by the OECD, recently suggest that competitive intensity may be declining in certain digital markets, such as the growth of mark-ups charged by firms over their costs. The decline in the entry of new players and the rise of level concentration in certain markets are other concerns. In this context, Governments and competition authorities across the G7 have begun to assess whether existing policy frameworks must be adapted in response to digitalisation.

The Conference opened with a discussion of how digitalisation has led to the introduction of new markets, the reshaping of old ones, and the transformation in how consumers obtain information as well as make purchases. It was observed that the digital transformation holds promise not just for consumers, but broader economic well-being as well. The discussions were dedicated to: 

  • Data and competition;
  • Digital innovation and competition; and
  • Regulatory challenges for competition policy.

Regulatory barriers to competition may need to be removed, and new regulatory measures may be needed to promote competition. Speakers noted that for competition authorities’ tools such as market studies and advocacy are essential elements of a competition policy adapted to digitalisation. Interdisciplinary co-operation between competition, consumer protection and data protection authorities, as well as sector regulators, Government policymakers and central banks, was also called for. Participants expressed the view that policymakers as well as competition, consumer protection and data protection authorities all have an important role to play in ensuring consumers are protected, and empowered to get the best possible deal.

European Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager, contributed to this conference as well.