March 2020 – The Turkish Competition Authority (“TCA”) recently announced that it has initiated a sector inquiry in order to determine new competition policies to closely follow current national and international developments in digital markets and which will culminate with the publication by the TCA of a “Digitisation and Competition Policy Report". In its announcement the TCA stated that contributions of sector stakeholders are also expected to be presented in the report and that suggestions regarding the policy/legislation may be delivered via the e-mail address email@example.com. The market inquiry report is expected to be completed in 2020.
We received clear signals regarding the launch of this market inquiry on digital economy at the Istanbul Competition Forum held by TCA in November 2019. Several competition authorities, particularly those of the European Commission and Germany, France and the United Kingdom, have already conducted similar studies on competition in digital markets.
The European Commission, which plays a significant role in terms of the interplay between digitalisation and competition law, published a Competition Policy Report for the Digital Period in 2019. Additionally, the Commission issued a press release on 29 January 2020 in order to establish compliance with the establishment of 5G networks in EU member states according to the digital common market target of the European Union.
Similar steps have also been taken at the member state level. The report on the Market Power in Platforms and Networks published by the German Federal Cartel Office (“FCO”) in 2016 and the report on Competition and Data jointly prepared by the FCO and the French Competition Authority (“FCA”) in 2016 have become studies that have helped to shape the attitudes of competition authorities towards digital markets in the following years. The FCO and FCA also published another joint study on Artificial Intelligence and Competition Law in November 2019. The FCA also announced that it has established a special body that will deal specifically with digital platforms. The Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) in the UK initiated a market study regarding digital markets in mid-2019 and published its interim report in December 2019.
Moreover, on 7 October 2019 the German Ministry of Economy and Energy published a draft amendment on German Competition Law that foresees significant changes in terms of the digitalisation process. The draft, which includes major changes regarding the harmonisation of competition rules to the digital world, is expected to come into force in 2020. The draft includes important revisions, such as identifying the power of data access among the factors for the determination of a dominant position.
The TCA’s sector inquiry is expected to shape the competition rules that will be applied to digital markets and to determine the renewed targets of competition policy in Turkey in accordance with developments in Europe. The TCA has been very active lately in digital markets: it concluded two investigations into Google (two other investigations into Google are on-going) and an investigation into Sahibinden.com, a local online platform. We will continue to closely monitor the progress of the sector inquiry and will provide updates regarding any developments in this area.