Leave, Remain & Common Ground: Pragmatism in Dealing with Tech Giants

April 2019

CPI Europe Column edited by Anna Tzanaki (Competition Policy International) & Juan Delgado (Global Economics Group) presents:

Leave, Remain & Common Ground: Pragmatism in Dealing with Tech Giants By Philip Marsden (College of Europe)1

In the last few years, a popular narrative is that the sky is falling: competition authorities have allowed too many mergers, digital markets are tipping, even with consumer benefits in terms of low prices or zero price and there are many harms to suppliers and indirect harms to consumers through loss of choice and privacy.

As a result, we have calls for greater and faster intervention in mergers and market activity, more political influence and less independence of decision-making.

This has fueled what I will call an antitrust LEAVE campaign, as in: leave the current relatively permissive approach, leave the consumer welfare standard, and Take Back Control from the titans.

This campaign is populist-led, with a disdain of experts and impatience at waiting for evidence before enforcing our laws.

Indeed, in this view, independent decision-making and economic analysis have allowed too much power in the hands of too few.

Leavers argue for:

  • substantive changes to antitrust standards;
  • reversing the burden of proof in mergers by large digital firms;
  • more intervention focusing on structural harms relating to economic dependency;
  • infusing competition law with such standards – Germany, France, Belgium, Austria, and Japan alread

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