Welcome to the SCiDA Project!

What is the SCiDA Project?

Welcome to the SCiDA blog! On March 1st 2024, we have kicked off our project “Shaping Competition in the Digital Age”. In this project, we study the implementation and early enforcement of three new regulatory initiatives: the Digital Markets Act at the EU level, the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Act in the United Kingdom, and section 19a of the German Competition Act (Gesetz Gegen Wettbewerbsbeschränkungen; GWB).

These new and ambitious regimes have been introduced to complement existing competition laws as a response to the disruptive changes brought forward with the emergence of the platform economy. These laws tend to focus on the largest players in the digital economy, such as Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, ByteDance, Meta, and Microsoft. In spite of their normative and conceptual similarities, each of these laws has their own scope and modus operandi: for example, in terms of designation, the DMA aims to regulate so-called gatekeepers of core platform services, the DMCCA looks at the context in which large undertakings operate as to determine whether they have a strategic-market-status, and section 19a of the GWB allows the German Competition Authority (Bundeskartellamt; BkartA) to designate entities as operators of important ecosystems if they find that an undertaking holds ‘paramount significance across markets’. Despite the differences between these regimes, they tend to focus strongly on the usual suspects mentioned above. Such situation offers a very fruitful soil for comparing these three sister-jurisdictions.

What are our objectives?

The SCiDA project has three main objectives. Our first objective is Documenting Change by studying not only the content and scope of each of these regimes, but by also looking at how they are implemented and what the effects of implementation are in practice. The first entities have already been designated under the Digital Markets Act and under section 19a GWB, so what exactly changes when these entities are designated and how long will it take before we see an impact on markets and consumer welfare?

The study of effects and progress falls within the domain of Diagnosing Progress. By documenting the legislative history, implementation, commitments and compliance mechanisms,  enforcement by public authorities, and private litigation under these regimes, we create an overview of how successful these regulatory regimes are in achieving their objectives, as well as how active the relevant authorities are in enforcing these laws. This allows us to make/offer/engage in a comparison between the effectiveness of these regimes in achieving certain objectives and their potential shortcomings in achieving others. In other words, the diagnosis of change is followed by a prognosis, where we enter into predictive and normative observations on how to best help the regulatory regime to improve.

Creating such a prognosis is linked to the third objective: Developing Concepts. Here, we compare these three legislative regimes aiming to develop a catalogue best practices in drafting legislation and enforcement, to create new conceptual and regulatory frameworks that help us understand and regulate competition in digital markets, and to provide recommendations on how these regulatory frameworks may converge or act in a symbiotic way. 

Creating a SCiDA platform & network

Of course, conducting such research does not happen in a vacuum. In order to ensure that the SCiDA project is impactful and comprehensive, we want to use SCiDA to create a network of interested partners as to develop a knowledge-sharing platform. We are already in contact with competition authorities, business users and gatekeepers to create a comprehensive image of competition in the digital economy, and we also invite you to contact us and take part in this project! The SCiDA platform will contain a database of all communications and enforcement activities surrounding the regulatory frameworks, a compilation of academic works on this topic, and blogs to keep you updated on the most recent developments in implementing and enforcing the DMA, DMCCA, and section 19a GWB. Besides managing the platform, we will also host workshops, seminars and other contact moments for the network.

Who are we?

This new project is a joint research effort of two teams: Professor Rupprecht Podszun at Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf (Germany) and Professor Oles Andriychuk at Newcastle University (UK) are the project leaders. Together with a dedicated team of young scholars, they work on these issues. Current team members are Dr Jasper van den Boom and Sarah Hinck. We are grateful to be funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) and Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) for a three-year period. If you want to learn more about the project or the team, please have a look at our SCiDA website for more information, and keep an eye out for our new blogs on all things related to shaping competition in the digital age!

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