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AFCA publishes considerations on digitalisation challenges in the economy and competition law enforcement

The Austrian Federal Competition Authority (AFCA) deals with the consequences of technological change in the economy and society every day.

New markets have emerged, and often do not follow the logic of traditional economic thinking. Companies’ value is no longer inextricably linked to the classic indicators of turnover and profit. Large tech groups are opening up ever new business fields that have little or nothing to do with their core business. Digital platforms are today’s market places, and decisions are increasingly being made not by people but by algorithms and artificial intelligence.

The AFCA has looked into the potential impact of these developments on the enforcement of competition law, summarising its findings in a thesis paper on the digitalisation challenges facing the economy and competition law enforcement.

We consider the following aspects to be critical as we prepare for the future in the capacity of competition authority:

  •          Advancing existing antitrust tools
  •          Strengthening the institutional framework
  •          Integrating new regulatory tools into the existing system
  •          Readjusting merger control
  •          Accelerating procedures
  •          Improving the exchange of information and cooperation among authorities
  •          Rethinking digital market power.

Before publication, we presented our thesis paper to various stakeholders and asked for their feedback. The AFCA would like to thank all participants for their constructive ideas and comments, which we have summarised in an annex to the paper (only in German available).

The general consensus seems to be that the digitalisation challenges faced by the economy and society cannot be tackled with competition law and competition policy alone, diverse regulatory approaches will be needed.

The AFCA works closely with RTR on digital issues.

Considerations on digitalisation challenges in the economy and competition law enforcement