UK jettisons legislation to empower digital regulator

Press quote (EurActiv)
10 May 2022

Even in its current non-statutory state, Zach Meyers, a senior research fellow at the Centre for European Reform, told EURACTIV that the DMU had had a discernible impact.

He argued that such technical expertise already led the CMA to achieve better results than the European Commission’s competition service.

“It has undertaken well-regarded market studies on digital advertising and mobile ecosystems which are far more sophisticated than, say, the Commission’s Internet of Things sector inquiry”, he added, citing the watchdog’s order against Meta’s acquisition of Giphy and its supervision of Google’s removal of third-party cookies from Chrome.  

Despite concerns that maintaining the DMU in a non-statutory capacity could serve to weaken London’s tech regulation, even without the introduction of legislation empowering the DMU this year, “it is not inevitable that the UK will fall behind the EU” in this regard, said Meyers. 

“So far, the CMA has avoided undertaking ‘market investigations’, preferring to wait until it has new powers”, he said. “However, given it will now be well over a year before the CMA has new powers, the case for starting market investigations is now compelling.” 

“If an investigation began shortly, it could be concluded at about the same time that tech firms will need to change their businesses to comply with the DMA’s rules – where compliance will start in Q1 2024 – so the UK would not necessarily fall behind the EU.”