This summer’s top reads

We recently published our annual summer round-up, which draws together the key global competition law developments over the summer break.

We focus on four key themes:

  1. A summer of big-tech trouble: The flurry of investigations and market studies into digital markets has continued at pace. Agencies are determined to use their existing toolkit to enforce the competition rules in markets which many argue present a unique set of challenges. Meanwhile, agencies and other stakeholders continue to explore possibilities for reform to enable more timely and effective intervention.
  2. Why comply? The value of an effective compliance programme: When calculating fines for competition law infringements, more and more agencies (most recently in the U.S.) give credit for a company’s effective corporate antitrust compliance programme. But still the end game must be to avoid infringements altogether, not least because fines are not the only consequence. So how do you go about building and implementing an effective programme? We share our top tips.
  3. Respect for merger review process at the top of enforcers’ agenda - Survival 101: The last few months have seen continued determination by authorities to intervene in mergers which raise competition issues, from prohibiting mergers altogether to requiring tougher remedy packages. We are also seeing more reliance on internal documents and closer co-ordination among authorities in terms of evidence and approach. And don’t forget the headline-grabbing fines for procedural breaches. In the face of all these challenges, we provide advice for getting your deal over the line without surprises.
  4. Competition vs. industrial policy: where do we draw the line? The European Commission’s decision to block the Siemens/Alstom merger, notwithstanding significant political pressure, reinvigorated a decades-old debate in Europe about the interplay between competition and industrial policy. While some have called for changes to the competition rules to enable greater political intervention, others want to look to other mechanisms to drive European industrial growth. These include State aid and procurement rules. Against the backdrop of similar calls to change the U.S. rules, it has been suggested that the DOJ is already taking industrial policy into account regarding the 5G technology roll out. Fears of political intervention in merger reviews have been heightened in the context of the ongoing trade tensions between the U.S. and China.