Director of the Centre at the Antimonopoly Forum
Alexey Ivanov's speech opened the Antimopoly Forum at a business breakfast on the 18th of February.
The Association of Antimonopoly Experts and the Federal Antimonopoly Service held the Antimonopoly Forum 2021, dedicated to topical issues of the development of competition in Russia and abroad. Presentations were made by the headship of the FAS Russia and other representatives of the department, key expert practitioners and representatives of government agencies for the protection of competition from other countries.
Alexey Ivanov took part in the opening business breakfast "Ecosystems. New or Old Approaches?".
Ecosystems are a natural way of business development for the largest companies, and not only in the information technology sector. Leaders of traditional markets are exploring new and offering complex integrated products, including under one brand, thus forming a new foundation for the future, even greater growth. We already see examples of the emergence of ecosystems of Sberbank, Yandex, Rostelecom, MTS and other companies.
Scattered business-activities of companies are combined into one ecosystem, and the previously understood boundaries of isolated markets are inevitably transformed under the influence of digitalisation and technological development. Does the regulator need to intervene in these processes to protect competition? What, in fact, is understood by the protection of competition in relation to the regulation of ecosystems? How not to miss the moment? And don't we have to repeat after John Sherman: "We knew the monopolies and privileges of the past, but we have never seen such giants as today." Experts asked such questions.
According to Alexey, antitrust law has lost its flexibility, and the increase in digital platforms' market power has gone "below the radar" of regulators. That is why today, the "renaissance" of antitrust can be observed all over the world. In antitrust law, there are discussions about how to ensure the effective development of competition in the digital sphere. Europe is stepping up its antitrust regulation - primarily to put pressure on global American companies. With tough regulatory instruments, Eurocrats want to strengthen their own players. Now the European Commission has introduced a bill that addresses the special requirements for digital players, including offering innovative approaches. The Europeans introduced the concept of gatekeepers for entities that control key infrastructure elements, including in those areas of economic life where they do not have a dominant position.
"A few years ago, Russia was one of the leaders in adapting antitrust regulation to the digital economy. It is worth noting the advanced world-class solutions for the Android platform and the Bayer-Monsanto deal, and the fifth antimonopoly package developed by us back in 2018, which is very progressive. The fifth package is still undergoing endless departmental approvals, and its most progressive provisions were emasculated along the way. At the same time, the world did not stand still, and what was progressive in 2018 is already outdated - fresh initiatives in Europe, China, and the US came trough much further. The power of the organisers of digital ecosystems, the so-called gatekeepers, is, in fact, a new type of market power that requires new tools of antitrust response. And it is along this path that antitrust law is developing in all leading jurisdictions, including our BRICS partners. I hope that we, too, will be able to return to this track and go through a full-fledged digital transformation of antitrust regulation in order to dramatically increase the effectiveness of protecting competition amid the dominance of digital giants. This is a challenging and ambitious task. However, its significance is discussed not only by antimonopoly experts, but also politicians from leading countries, including our President, who in his recent speech at the Davos Forum noted that "an increasingly significant role in the life of society has begun to be played by modern technological and, above all, digital giants "and directly posed the question:" To what extent does such a monopoly correspond precisely to the public interest? "I think it's time for antitrust law to answer that question."