If the EU wants to turn itself into a digital economy powerhouse, it will have to switch towards light-touch regulation that allows firms to experiment with disruptive services, flexible employment options, and novel monetization strategies.
In a new ICLE Issue Brief, we question whether there is any merit to these claims of protectionism. We show that, since the entry into force of Regulation 1/2003, US firms have borne the lion’s share of monetary penalties imposed by the Commission for breaches of competition law.
The following is adapted from a recent ICLE Issue Brief on the flawed essential facilities arguments undergirding the EU competition investigations into Amazon’s marketplace that Kristian Stout wrote with Geoffrey Manne.
Amazon has largely avoided the crosshairs of antitrust enforcers to date (leaving aside the embarrassing dangerous threats of arbitrary enforcement by some US presidential candidates). The reasons seem obvious: in the US it handles a mere 5% of all retail sales (with lower shares in the EU), and it consistently provides access to a wide array of affordable goods.
Last month, the European Commission slapped another fine upon Google for infringing European competition rules (€1.49 billion this time). This brings Google’s contribution to the EU budget to a dizzying total of €8.25 billion (to put this into perspective, the total EU budget for 2019 is €165.8 billion).
How does a market’s structure affect innovation? This crucial question has occupied the world’s brightest economists for almost a century, from Schumpeter who found that monopoly was optimal, through Arrow who concluded that competitive market structures were key, to the endogenous growth scholars who empirically derived an inverted-U relationship between market concentration and innovation.