At this year’s MaCCI annual conference, 92 international guests came together at ZEW to discuss current research issues with practical relevance in the area of competition and innovation from both an economic and a legal perspective. The event consisted of 15 parallel sessions and three sessions with invited speakers.
Data and regulation pose challenges to digital economy
The highlights of the conference included the keynotes by Andreas Mundt, President of the Federal Cartel Office, and Professor Howard Shelanski of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
As President of the Federal Cartel Office, Andreas Mundt explained his view of the challenges of competition enforcement facing the digital economy. The Federal Cartel Office has little experience with the regulation of digital markets, yet considers itself responsible for keeping digital markets open and contestable for competition. As an example, he cited the current cases in which the Cartel Office posed severe fines on several Internet companies for abusing their dominant market position. In addition, Mundt called for stronger consumer protection for customers of online platforms, especially with regard to the collection and use of data.
In his keynote speech, which was broadcast via live video, US law professor Howard Shelanski also focused on the issue of data protection. In this respect he sees Europe and its recently introduced European General Data Protection Regulation (EU GDPR) as a pioneer and model for other states. Shelanski also discussed the special importance of data in the digital economy. The large amount of data many Internet companies have at their disposal offer these companies great competitive advantages, making it very difficult for potential competitors to enter the market. Furthermore, he called for framework conditions to be established to ensure that data protection becomes part of competition – so that the companies that offer the best data protection for their customers will prevail on the market.
MaCCI is short for “Mannheim Centre for Competition and Innovation”. MaCCI is a research alliance between ZEW and the School of Law and Economics at the University of Mannheim which encourages the exchange of knowledge between economists and legal experts and in doing so inspires new approaches to issues relating to competition, regulation and innovation policy. Core topics analysed by MaCCI include vertical competition restraints, abuse of market power, merger control, public and private enforcement of competition law, and regulations in the telecommunications and energy market.