The UK Finally Published its Competition Bill. Was it Worth the Wait?

Max von Thun is the Director of Europe & Transatlantic Partnerships at the Open Markets Institute, based in Brussels.  At the end of April, the UK government published the long-awaited Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill (DMCC). Years in the making, the 400-page Bill establishes a new pro-competition regulatory framework targeting the very largest tech firms, while upgrading the UK’s competition and consumer protection regime in other significant ways. Largely living up to its promise, the Bill will go a long way toward ensuring that the UK’s digital economy benefits society as a whole, not just a handful of tech giants. Yet there are still important ways in which it could be improved.  Although new digital markets legislation was originally recommended by the government-backed Digital Competition Expert Panel in 2019, and endorsed by the government in 2020, the drafting and publication of the Bill was stymied by a combination of the pandemic, turbulence within the ruling Conservative Party, and internal political disagreements over the Bill’s substance. Meanwhile, in anticipation of its new powers the UK’s competition regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), has set up a new Digital Markets Unit that is eagerly awaiting the passage of the legislation to start its work.   The DMCC not only establishes a new ex-ante regime for Big Tech similar to the European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), but also grants a range of new powers to the CMA, primarily in the area of consumer protection. For the purposes of this article, I…The UK Finally Published its Competition Bill. Was it Worth the Wait?