Post- and pre-conference thoughts
I was delighted to attend a conference on Friday last week at the University of Leeds. Drs Pinar Akman and Peter Whelan put together a really interesting programme combining young academics (as I like to fancy myself) and experienced practitioners. Great chance (for me) to meet some people (long overdue in some cases) and to see some friends, including Nicolas (I should definitely take the Eurostar more often). I hope to be able to share the slides (mine and others’) very soon on the blog.
Pinar and Peter asked me to discuss the interface between competition law and sector-specific regulation. The topic brings together my doctoral dissertation (on technological convergence between media and telecommunications) and some ongoing issues that I follow with particular interest – in particular, the Google investigation and the broader Digital Single Market Strategy.
The commonalities across issues are clear, and the fundamental research questions remain the same they were 10 or 15 years ago. It is not a secret that there is big appetite for the regulation of convergent technologies – whether it is telecommunications networks, pay TV channels, search engines, or e-commerce) One of the key ideas of my talk was that, when the impulse to regulate is too strong, competition law may be the casualty, and this in two ways. Enforcement may shift towards a newly crafted sector-specific regime (as the one that is now envisaged for the so-called ‘digital platforms’, or the one set up by Ofcom in relation to pay TV in the UK). If the shift does not occur, the challenge for courts and authorities is to ensure that the integrity of the competition law system is not jeopardised.
Tomorrow I will be flying to Japan to take part in the 10th ASCOLA conference. It is the first time that I speak at one of their events and I really look forward to sharing my thoughts with the participants. The topic is on the regulation of abusive practices, about which I have written abundantly on the blog. I hope to persuade my fellow academics that it is about time to place the law (as opposed to economics and policy-making) at the very centre of discussions around Article 102 TFEU (and equivalent provisions in other regimes).
Talking conferences. Our friend David Mamane tells us about an upcoming one on the enforcement of EU competition law at the national level.