In my opinion, one of the main antitrust developments of 2019 has been the European Commission’s decision to impose interim measures on Broadcom, one of the world’s leading TV and modem chipset suppliers. This is truly remarkable since it is first time the Commission has made use of this power under Article 8 of Regulation 1 /2003. It is also the first time the Commission has imposed interim measures of this sort in over 18 years.
The decision, which Margrethe Vestager has labelled ‘a sign of things to come’, is one of the latest examples of a competition enforcer trying to take quick action and heed concerns that it is doing ‘too little, too late’ or that it is ill-equipped to restore competition in fast-paced evolving technological markets.
The use of interim measures as a tool of rapid intervention has recently been discussed in the UK. The Report of the Digital Competition Expert Panel of March 2019 recommended streamlining the current procedures and administrative rules of the CMA to facilitate the greater and quicker use of interim measures to protect rivals against significant harm. The Chairman of the CMA, in his letter to the UK Government proposing changes to the UK’s antitrust regime, was clear that the greater use of interim measures is ‘essential’ if the CMA is to respond to the challenges thrown up by the digital sector.
It will certainly be interesting to see the outcome of the Broadcom decision since it is likely to have significant ramifications for the future use of this tool in antitrust enforcement.
To note – these are my personal views and do not necessarily reflect those of the CMA.
Miquel Roig Miserendino is a Principal Case Officer at the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).