In a Feb. 19, 2020 memorandum, the French Competition Authority contributed to the debate on competition policy in response to new challenges posed by the development of the digital economy.

The French Competition Authority made several reflections and proposals regarding both antitrust and merger control issues.

In order to better identify anti-competitive practices in digital markets, the French Competition Authority suggested adapting certain existing concepts. The standard of rules applicable to the essential facility concept could be made more flexible or renewed, for example, by qualifying certain assets as indispensable (incontournables).

In addition, the notion of dominant position could be extended to include certain strong players, such as structuring digital platforms (plateformes numériques structurantes) defined as companies that provide online intermediation services in order to exchange, buy or sell goods, content or services and that have structuring market power over their competitors, users and third parties. To this end, it is recommended to draw up a list of anti-competitive practices specific to these players, on the basis of which the French Competition Authority could put an end to the competition concern identified.

With regard to merger control, the French Competition Authority suggested a better use of existing tools, in particular by making greater use of behavioral commitments, as well as the procedure of referral for examination to the European Commission.

The French Competition Authority also proposed compelling structuring digital platforms (plateformes numériques structurantes) to inform the competition authorities about the mergers carried out, or even to set up a procedure for ex-ante or ex-post notification at the request of a competition authority.

This document will be updated by the French Competition Authority in light of forthcoming proposals from the European Commission and the French Parliament.

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