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Digital Competition's Newsletter: Competition policy is sexy again

Christophe Carugati

n°5 Free Edition

16 May 2024

The newsletter outlines news related to GenAI, DMA, and antitrust.

What matters in digital competition, and what implications does it have for digital and competition policies? What can we expect next?

As an expert in digital and competition policies and the founder of Digital Competition, I specialise in providing research and advice on complex and emerging issues to advance open digital and competition policies for better innovation. Our services include policy hubs for research on global digital and competition issues, consultations, training, and conferences for various stakeholders such as tech firms, venture capitalists, law firms, governments, and organisations navigating intricate regulatory landscapes.

I welcome inquiries for membership, consultations, and press inquiries at

I want to emphasise that I have not received any funding for this newsletter and have no conflicts of interest with the firms mentioned below. This newsletter is a monthly free edition, and you are welcome to share it or unsubscribe anytime.


Competition policy is sexy again. Authorities and policymakers frequently outline the importance of competition, particularly concerning Generative AI and competitiveness. In the realm of GenAI, competition authorities worldwide remain vigilant, initiating studies and investigations yet grappling with determining appropriate responses. Concurrently, discussions surrounding procompetitive industrial policy have resurfaced, particularly amidst global elections, with a notable focus in Europe. Policymakers are actively navigating the complexities of implementing industrial policy and managing consolidation without compromising competition.

My work


External: On-topic Artificial intelligence and antitrust: I worked with Concurrences over the last months to edit the first on-topic on AI and antitrust. You will find contributions from in-house counsels (Rima Alaily from Microsoft), economists (Gregor Langus, Norbert Maier, and Rashid Muhamedrahimov from Cornerstone Research), lawyers (Tone Oeyen and Yeşim Yargıcı from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer), case handlers (Marta Rocha and Rafael Longo from the Portuguese Competition Authority), and academics (Friso Bostoen from Tilburg University and Anouk van der Veer from the European University Institute). They discuss how the GenAI value chain works, the potential competition issues, and market intervention. The on-topic

Comment: Digital Competition's Input to the Competition and Markets Authority on AI Partnerships: The Amazon/Anthropic partnership, Microsoft/MistralAI partnership, and Microsoft/InflectionAI arrangement are unlikely to meet UK merger review criteria; if reviewed, there are no theories of harm likely to negatively impact competition in the UK. The comment


Comment: Digital Competition’s Submission to the European Commission’s Consultation on Generative AI (soon on the Commission’s website): This submission provides input to the European Commission's consultation on Generative AI. The comment


Opinion: From Search to Answer Engine: Google's Evolutionary Leap: Google’s shift from a search to an answer engine showcases a major evolution to stay ahead of the curve. However, Google is not immune to forthcoming major disruptions from personal agents. The opinion

Training 👨‍🏫 Generative AI and Competition: In the context of intense monitoring by competition authorities of Generative AI, I provide training sessions to legal, economic, and policy professionals on how competition in Generative AI works. The training session

Event: Digital innovation: How to regulate AI and data?: I discussed generative AI and competition with Yann Guthmann (French competition authority), David Sevy (Compass Lexecon) and Caroline Hobson (Cooley) at a Concurrences event in London on 23 April. The recap


Event: How Does Competition in Generative AI Work?: I discussed generative AI and competition with Katie Curry (RBB Economics), Thomas Höppner (Hausfeld) and Adam Cellan-Jones (Competition and Markets Authority) at a Thought Leaders’ online event on 29 April. The recording


Event: Challenges facing companies in implementing digital regulations: I discussed DMA implementation at a conference organised by IE University in Madrid on 25 April.


Event: Competition in AI development – what role for competition law & policy?: I discussed generative AI and competition with Abigail Criswell (Competition and Markets Authority), Thibault Schrepel (University of Amsterdam) and Paulo Rocha Abecasis (Copenhagen Economics) at a College of Europe event on 7 May.

DMA Tracker 📈: I updated the tracker with the publications of the decisions to open formal investigations against Alphabet, Apple, and Meta; the decisions not to designate as gatekeepers, Apple iMessage, Microsoft Bing, Microsoft Edge, and Microsoft Ads; the designations of Apple iPadOS and Booking as a gatekeeper; and the opening of a market investigation for the designation of X. The tracker


Research projects: Let’s work together

I am open to collaborating on digital and competition research projects focusing on generative AI, mobile ecosystems, the transition from search to answer engines, platform regulations, international coherence of digital market regulations, and privacy and competition. Additionally, I am seeking funding opportunities from corporations or public institutions to support these endeavours. Please don't hesitate to reach out at your convenience to delve deeper into these topics.


I will also be glad to intervene as an expert to help you solve DMA-related issues.



Generative AI


AI revitalises competition policy: Businesses continuously unveil new products, services, and partnerships, prompting competition authorities worldwide to closely monitor these novel developments with a sense of urgency. From Brussels and London to Delhi, discussions abound, yet the path forward remains uncertain.


Europe 🇪🇺 will not review the Microsoft/OpenAI partnership: Media reports indicate that the Commission will not review the partnership due to the absence of legal control. However, it might investigate the partnership under competition laws. Reuters


India 🇮🇳 is joining the club: The India competition authority is launching its own market study on GenAI, following similar studies conducted in the United Kingdom, Portugal, Hungary, Europe, the United States, France, Japan, and Canada. The investigation


The United Kingdom 🇬🇧 is closely monitoring AI partnerships and arrangements: As part of its ongoing oversight of the GenAI sector, the UK competition authority is soliciting input on whether the Amazon/Anthropic partnership, Microsoft/MistralAI partnership, and Microsoft/InflectionAI arrangement fall within the UK merger control regime and their potential implications for competition. The initiative. My comment


The Commission 🇪🇺 is organising a conference on virtual worlds and GenAI on 28 June 📅: It will focus on the competition dynamics of GenAI and the role of competition enforcement in fostering a competitive GenAI market. Having delved into these two topics for over a year and a half, I'm eager to attend the conference. The presidents from the French and Portuguese competition authorities will join to present their respective studies. Interestingly, the Hungarian competition authority will not be there, despite initiating an investigation in January. However, the looming question is what announcement the Commission will make. Scenario 1: It may merely discuss the topic, concluding with a commitment to monitor market developments. Scenario 2: It might announce the initiation of a market study under traditional competition laws. Scenario 3: It might open a market investigation under the Digital Markets Act to add GenAI as a new Core Platform Service. Given the dynamic nature of the market and the potential efficacy of antitrust laws, the latter seems less probable. Registration


Microsoft has unveiled new AI models: The company announced small language models trained on diverse datasets, including synthetic data, which can operate directly on a phone without relying on cloud services. The models


Data feedback loops matter: OpenAI introduced "memories" to enhance responses based on past conversations when users interact with ChatGPT. OpenAI leverages this content, including memories, to refine its models for all users. Economically speaking, increased user engagement with the models leads to their continuous improvement. OpenAI memories 


🚨 AI personal assistants are poised to become the next generation of killer apps: OpenAI's CEO highlighted in an interview that personal agents akin to those depicted in the movie "Her" are anticipated to be the next major breakthroughs. The interview


As an illustration, Meta is challenging 🥊 Google Search with its Meta AI assistants: Meta integrates these assistants across all its apps, allowing users to access real-time information seamlessly within Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. Meta's move could significantly disrupt Google Search, given its massive user base of over 3 billion monthly active users worldwide and the growing dependence of young users on social media platforms. Meta. My opinion


“Her" becomes real: OpenAI’s recent release of the GPT-4o models is echoing the futuristic vision portrayed in the movie "Her." This advancement is poised to have far-reaching social, economic and competition implications and disruptions in various sectors, including operating systems, search engines, browser engines, and application stores. This move aligns with my earlier predictions regarding the transformative potential of AI, as outlined in prior opinion pieces on AI virtual assistants and Google’s evolutionary leap. OpenAI. Opinion on AI virtual assistants. Opinion on Google

Google is also part of the AI race: Google is fully moving from a search to an answer engine. It is inevitable as it finds itself at a Kodak moment, where it must completely redesign its flagship services or competitors will emerge and take the lead. The shift promises to be disruptive, reshaping the landscape for content creators and online advertising. Stakeholders will surely complain before competition authorities in the next few years as generated answers will prominently appear on top of the result and compete directly with content from content creators. Besides, legislation such as the EU Digital Markets Act will need to adapt to foster this innovation, ensuring its benefits extend to Europeans. Finally, Google will launch its own agent, competing with OpenAI. Google


Digital Markets Act

Move fast and break things: The Commission is swiftly advancing with the implementation of the DMA, introducing new designations and tools.

A new gate for Apple 🍏: After an 8-month market investigation, the Commission has designated Apple iPadOS as a gatekeeper. Apple has announced plans to expand its compliance efforts to include iPadOS. The Commission. Apple

Booking 📅 also joins the DMA club: In 2015, one of the most significant digital cases revolved around and clauses restricting hotels from offering better prices on alternative platforms. This sparked numerous debates about the clauses' pro and anticompetitive effects, court hearings, market studies, and discussions regarding the coherence of competition laws in Europe, given differing interpretations of the clause's scope between countries. Now, this chapter is history for academic books. With a swift designation, the DMA uniformly prohibits Booking from imposing such clauses across Europe without the ability to show procompetitive effects. Booking

X is under market investigation: Despite reaching quantitative thresholds qualifying it as a potential gatekeeper, X contends that it does not serve as a significant gateway between businesses and users. Consequently, the Commission has initiated a market investigation to evaluate this assertion. X

🍏 Apple updated its terms for app distribution: The company implements a Core Technology Fee (CTF) when users utilise alternative distribution channels, as permitted by the DMA for the initial user acquisition. In response to feedback from the competition and developer communities, Apple revised its terms to address concerns regarding the perceived unattractiveness of the CTF for developers with minimal or no revenue. The new terms include exemptions from the CTF for such developers under specific conditions. Apple

The Commission launches a whistleblower tool: This tool empowers whistleblowers to report potential DMA non-compliance to the Commission. It is also accessible for reporting under the Digital Services Act.DMA. DSA

DMA and GDPR work together ♥️: In the context of the "pay-or-consent" opinion issued under the GDPR, the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) determined that Meta's "pay-or-consent" model is not compliant and suggested that Meta should provide an alternative option for users who do not wish to pay and consent (I argued the same in a blogpost). The Commission is investigating Meta’s model under the DMA, which aligns with GDPR principles. The question arises: Will the Commission follow the EDPB's opinion? Despite the Meta judgment outlining that competition authorities must cooperate with data protection authorities; the situation remains a mystery. The opinion. The Commission’s investigation. The Meta judgement. The blogpost 

🇪🇺 Brussels' effect in Türkiye 🇹🇷: The Turkish competition authority has banned and fined Meta from combining data from Instagram with Threads. The DMA also prohibits this data combination unless the user's voluntary consent. In response, Meta has decided to temporarily suspend Threads in Türkiye. Meta

Microsoft plans to offer an alternative game application store: It will be accessible across all countries via a browser and no matter Apple or Google’s policies around alternative application stores. The DMA might be for something, but I have my doubts considering that it will be globally available. Bloomberg



In antitrust, we trust: Competition entails a clash of forces, with firms striving to voice their concerns. Similarly, competition authorities engage in safeguarding the competitive process against demands for increased consolidation and subsidies in the interest of fostering competitiveness.


Spotify is unhappy 🤬 (and will probably never be): The Commission asked Apple to remove the clause preventing Spotify from informing its users of its iPhone app of alternative offers on its website. Apple removed it. It now allows external links against a 27 per cent commission fee. Spotify submitted an update to Apple with external links but does not want to pay Apple. Apple thus declined the update. Spotify then publicly criticised Apple and called the Commission to intervene. Spotify wants to pay nothing, but Apple can legitimately charge a fee. “Spotify is Unhappy” could be a fitting title for a Taylor Swift song. The Commission’s decision. Apple. Spotify 


Below merger threshold under the spotlight: The French 🇫🇷 competition authority reviewed a merger below threshold under anticompetitive agreement following the Towercast judgment. The decision


Mario Draghi (Super Mario) and Enrico Letta (Luigi) call for more consolidation of the telecommunication sector in the interest of European competitiveness: Telco lobbyists have advocated for this for over a decade, with the Commission consistently responding with a firm "No, thanks." However, this stance shifted when Thierry Breton, former CEO of France Télécom, assumed the role of Commissioner for the Internal Market. Despite this, telcos still encounter resistance from Margrethe Vestager, the Commissioner for Competition. Will the next Commission align with Super Mario and Luigi's call? I have my doubts, considering that competition in the telco industry fosters intense price competition and leads to better consumer offers. Draghi. Letta. Vestager’s response


Vestager advocates for competitiveness: Competition laws safeguard competitiveness, and the Commission possesses the necessary tools to uphold it. Vestager

About the author

Christophe Carugati

Dr. Christophe Carugati is the founder of Digital Competition. He is a renowned and passionate expert on digital and competition issues with a strong reputation for doing impartial, high-quality research. After his PhD in law and economics on Big Data and Competition Law, he is an ex-affiliate fellow at the economic think-tank Bruegel and a lecturer in competition law and economics at Lille University.

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