ECN Brief

Germany | Working Group on Competition Economics discusses fuel markets, minority shareholdings and the modernisation of abuse control

Germany | Working Group on Competition Economics discusses fuel markets, minority shareholdings and the modernisation of abuse control

Bonn, 8 February 2019: On 8 February 2019 the Working Group on Competition Economics held its third meeting in Bonn where Bundeskartellamt staff and economic researchers discussed topical competition economics issues.

The agenda of the meeting included the impact of the Market Transparency Unit for Fuels, the application of competition law to minority shareholdings and the discussion on modernising abuse control as a possible response to the growing market power of large digital platforms.

Andreas Mundt, President of the Bundeskartellamt: “In its evaluation the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy recently concluded that the launch of the Market Transparency Unit for Fuels has generally had a positive impact on the consumer. The in-depth discussion of the findings of the evaluation is of great significance for future competition policy in this area.

A current topic of economic research which is of particular importance are corporate links between competitors in the form of minority shareholdings and the common ownership of large institutional investors such as BlackRock or Vanguard in companies which compete with one another. It is being discussed at international level whether the antitrust toolbox should be expanded to deal with such cases. German practice in this area can greatly contribute to this debate because in Germany the acquisition of certain minority shareholdings is subject to merger control. These cases show how complex the issues are which minority shareholdings raise.

It is the task of competition authorities to keep digital platform markets open and provide opportunities for competition, for newcomers. Several publications of the Bundeskartellamt as well as a study commissioned by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy into modernising abuse control highlight the possible need for action in view of progressive digitalisation in nearly all economic sectors. The time has now come to discuss these ideas in detail and to consider possible changes to the law.”

The following academic experts took part in the third meeting of the Working Group on Competition Economics: Professor Dr Stefan Bühler (University of St. Gallen), Professor Dr Tomaso Duso (German Institute for Economic Research, Berlin), Professor Dr Roman Inderst (Goethe University Frankfurt), Professor Dr Wolfgang Kerber (Philipps University Marburg), Professor Dr Kai-Uwe Kühn (University of East Anglia), Professor Dr Martin Peitz (University of Mannheim), Professor Dr Markus Reisinger (Frankfurt School of Finance & Management), Professor Achim Wambach Ph.D. (Centre for European Economic Research, Mannheim) and Professor Dr Christine Zulehner (University of Vienna).

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