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Competition policy and regulation has relatively clearly defined goals, including the enhancement of consumer welfare and the pursuit of market efficiency. In the current hyper-politicized environment, the challenge for competition authorities is how to pursue these goals while navigating political pressures and public sentiments that have the capacity to influence competition policy and enforcement decisions.

The annual Chatham House Competition Policy conference will assess how thinking on antitrust and market regulation is being reshaped in the prevailing political context, nationally and internationally, and amid the influence of non-competition factors, including industrial policy and trade objectives.


Discussion themes include:

  • The relationship between competition policy and industrial policy

  • Attitudes to merger controls and the politics of international mergers

  • Competition and the digitalization of the global economy

  • Enforcement measures and non-competition objectives

This conference is part of the Chatham House LIVE series and will be hosted online and on the record.

The LIVE series will bring together international audiences and enable participants to connect with peers from across the globe. Over the course of each LIVE conference, participants will be able to engage in high-level panel discussions and conversations between policy makers, business leaders and international experts. Other interactive features will include polling and live analysis of results, in addition to live question and answer sessions between participants and speakers.

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Agenda

Tuesday 10 November (all times are GMT)

1530–1540

Welcome and opening remarks

Bill Kovacic, Global Competition Professor of Law and Policy; Professor of Law; Director, Competition Law Center, George Washington University
 

1540–1600

Opening address

Noah Phillips, Commissioner, US Federal Trade Commission

1600–1700

Competition and the Digital Economy: Bridging the Regulatory Gap

As policy-makers pledge to grow their national digital economies, this session will assess the regulatory gaps in a digital, cross-border marketplace where dominant firms, anticompetitive data advantages and vertical restraints on trade are just some of the issues regulators must contend with.


  • Is ex ante regulation the right solution to address competition issues in the digital economy?

  • What is the status of the various proposals for regulatory reform and investigations (e.g., reforms of German competition law, the CMA digital advertising market study, the Furman report on digital competition, the report for the European Commission by Cremer, de Montjoye and Schweitzer on competition policy in a digital era, the ACCC digital platforms report)?

  • What will the US FTC Task Force for monitoring technology markets and FTC/DOJ enforcement initiatives achieve, given the distinct challenges for antitrust enforcement in the digital economy?

  • Is the EU Platform Regulation a model for the future?

  • In markets that are dominated by powerful incumbents, such as the big tech companies, should these companies be broken up?

Chair
Neil Dryden, Executive Vice President, Compass Lexecon

Speakers
Andreas Mundt, President, Bundeskartellamt 
Mike Walker, Chief Economic Adviser, CMA

Questions and discussion

1700

End of day one

Wednesday 11 November (all times are GMT)

1530–1600

Opening address

Olivier Guersent, Director-General, DG Competition, European Commission 
Makan Delrahim, Assistant Attorney General, Antitrust Division, United States Department of Justice
 

1600–1700

The Politics of Merger and Foreign Investment Controls

Policy-makers’ attitudes to mergers may be shifting amid concerns about an unlevel international playing field that penalizes companies operating in jurisdictions with strict merger control regimes. At the same time, the public perception in many of those jurisdictions is that merger control is not strict enough. As some regulatory authorities take heed of geopolitical and geo-economic considerations on merger control decisions, others, particularly the EU, have faced criticism for not doing so. This session will assess the prevailing trends in merger control and how to strike a balance between antitrust principles and economic realities in merger decisions.


  • How are the changing attitudes to mergers affecting policy-making and merger reviews?

  • How would market competitiveness be affected by proposals for an EU Merger Regulation (EUMR) veto for the EU Council to allow the creation of European/national champions?

  • What are the latest developments in foreign direct investment/national security screening that will have an impact on merger decisions? How will proposals to expand the powers of policy-makers to intervene on planned mergers on national security grounds shape future decisions?

  • How should competition regulators incorporate public interest issues in merger control decisions?

  • To what extent should other non-competition objectives – labour protections, wages, national industrial champions, sustainability issues, data protection and privacy – be considered in merger control decisions? How far should policy-makers intervene in such circumstances?

  • Has the UK shown a willingness to diverge from EU principles and practice on merger decisions post-Brexit?

Chair
Nelson Jung, Partner, Clifford Chance

Speakers 
Sue Hinchcliffe, Global Executive Counsel, Competition Law & Policy, GE
Kirsten Edwards-Warren, Executive Vice President and the Deputy Head of EMEA, Compass Lexecon 

Questions and discussion

1700

End of day two

Thursday 12 November (all times are GMT)

1530–1600

Opening address

Michael Grenfell, Executive Director, Enforcement, Competition and Markets Authority

1600–1700

The Future of Competition Enforcement

The power of competition regulation is underpinned by the effectiveness of the enforcement measures available to regulators and the commitment to utilize these measures to achieve and sustain market competitiveness. This session will focus on the effectiveness of the existing enforcement tools and the changes on the horizon that have the potential to increase divergence between enforcement regimes.


  • Are competition law regulators delivering the right results in a sufficiently timely and effective manner? Should interim measures, as in the Broadcom case, be used more systematically?

  • Is there likely to be a shift in some jurisdictions away from a consumer welfare standard and towards greater accommodation of non-competition objectives – labour protections, wages, national industrial champions, sustainability issues, data protection and privacy?

  • In a hyper-globalized world with competing interests, what are the limits of national enforcement and international cooperation?

  • Post-Brexit, how will CMA enforcement activity evolve? Which aspects of a UK enforcement regime might be adapted or diverge from the EU?

  • The EU's proposed new competition tool looks to address structural competition problems but will it result in more interventions in competition policy enforcement?

Chair
Frederic Jenny, President Competition Committee, OECD à Frederic to moderate Opening Keynote too 

Speakers 
Peter Mucchetti, Partner, Clifford Chance
Bill Kovacic, Global Competition Professor of Law and Policy; Professor of Law; Director, Competition Law Center, George Washington University 

Questions and discussion

1700

End of conference

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