Focus on Antitrust and Digital Platforms


MaCCI Annual Conference 2023

The Mannheim Centre for Competition and Innovation (MaCCI) hosted its twelfth annual conference on 23–24 March 2023 at ZEW Mannheim. This year’s conference programme consisted of approximately 80 presentations in parallel sessions, two keynote speeches, and a panel discussion. With over 120 participants, this was the largest in-person MaCCI Annual Conference to date.

The first conference day focused on various aspects of the digital economy, merger analysis, and market power from both an economics and a law perspective. A highlight of the first conference day was the keynote speech by Professor Niamh Dunne from the London School of Economics (LSE).

Antitrust interventions to stop regulatory gaming?

Niamh Dunne (LSE) on regulatory gaming strategies.

Professor Niamh Dunne from the London School of Economics (LSE) gave the first keynote speech on regulatory gaming strategies. She defined regulatory gaming as an abuse of neutral or procompetitive regulatory structures to achieve exclusionary results in an industry. Professor Dunne illustrated the exceptional relevance of the topic by providing recent cases of regulatory gaming, which she divides into three categories: bad faith compliance, opportunistic non-compliance, and coordinated compliance. The examples include, for instance, manipulating regional rules for languages on packaging to affect competition (bad faith compliance), business models incompatible with data protection rules (opportunistic non-compliance), and agreements on how to comply with car emission standards (coordinated compliance). Dunne pointed out the pivotal role of intent when evaluating instances of non-compliance with regulatory frameworks.

The second conference day began with parallel sessions on various competition and innovation-related topics, including search, productivity, markup estimation, and product assortment with a mix of theoretical and empirical perspectives.

The Digital Markets Act – Implementation challenges

Panel discussion on the Digital Markets Act (DMA).

The afternoon of the second day began with a panel discussion on “Implementing the Digital Markets Act.” Professor Martin Peitz (University of Mannheim and MaCCI) moderated the discussion. The panel consisted of Sophie Ahlswede (European Commission), Professor Viktoria Robertson (Vienna University of Economics and Business, University of Graz), Professor Alexandre de Streel (University of Namur and CERRE), and Dr. Cristina Caffarra (Keystone). Sophie Ahlswede provided a quick overview and timeline for the next implementation challenges. Alexandre de Streel and Viktoria Robertson alerted the audience to key elements of Digital Markets Act (DMA) implementation. Cristina Caffarra insisted that the necessary infrastructure to evaluate big industry players has yet to be created and that the regulators’ discussion should go beyond economics and law, since technologists play a crucial role in understanding the firms’ business models. Alexandre de Streel sees the DMA as a big step forward towards intermediating big players in the industry. Sophie Ahlswede and Viktoria Robertson agreed that, as an EU regulation implemented at unprecedented speed, the DMA is a significant achievement.

Theories of harm for digital platforms

Massimo Motta (ICREA – Universitat Pompeu Fabra, and Barcelona School of Economics) on theories of harm for digital platforms.

Professor Massimo Motta (ICREA – Universitat Pompeu Fabra, and Barcelona School of Economics) gave the keynote speech on the second day, speaking about self-preferencing and foreclosure on digital platforms. The abuse and dominance of large digital platforms has long captured the attention of competition authorities worldwide. Massimo Motta provided a rationale for evaluating dominance in digital platforms by applying established theories of harm to recent antitrust cases of digital platforms. He divided the theories into three sub-categories: imperfect rent extraction, dynamic vertical foreclosure, and raising rivals’ costs. He then walked the audience through some cases for the respective categories, such as self-preferencing in Google Shopping, anti-steering provisions in Spotify versus Apple Music (imperfect rent extraction), Apple cloud gaming and Web Apps (dynamic foreclosure), and Amazon Marketplace (raising rivals’ costs).

About MaCCI

MaCCI – short for “Mannheim Centre for Competition and Innovation” – 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. In doing so, it 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.

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