On April 3, 2020, the Commission launched a public consultation to review the adequacy of the 1997 Market Definition Notice (the “Notice”), which sets out the Commission’s formal guidance on the definition of relevant product and geographic market.[1] This kicks off a six-week process to solicit opinions from anyone interested.

In the aftermath of the Siemens/Alstom prohibition decision,[2] a number of EU Member States openly called for broad reforms of EU competition law, including to better reflect the reality of “global” markets.[3] Similarly, the Commission’s increased scrutiny of digital markets has brought about novel market definition challenges with multi- sided platforms.[4]

While acknowledging the increasing impact of globalization and digitalization on competition in Europe, Commissioner Vestager reiterated that any revision of the Market Definition Notice would focus on preparing an updated “clear and consistent approach” manual for measuring the boundaries of a market, rather than a “choice about what [the Commission] think[s] the market ought to be.”[5]

The Commission aims to conclude the revision process by mid-2021. Any revision to the Notice is unlikely to radically change the Commission’s approach to defining markets, which is well- founded in economics. Similarly, any substantive change to defining digital product markets might be premature in the absence of a broader economic and legal consensus.

[1]      Commission Notice on the definition of relevant market for the purposes of Community competition law, available at: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/ EN/ALL/?uri=CELEX%3A31997Y1209%2801%29. See also, the Commission’s Roadmap, available at: https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/have- your-say/initiatives/12325-Evaluation-of-the-Commission-Notice-on-market-definition-in-EU-competition-law.

[2]      Siemens/Alstom (Case COMP/M.8677), Commission decision of February 6, 2019.

[3]      The calls for reform of EU merger control rules after Siemens/Alstom were reported in our February 2019 EU Competition Law Newsletter.

[4]      See The EU’s Competition Policy for the Digital Era, Final Report 2019, available at: https://ec.europa.eu/competition/publications/reports/kd0419345enn.pdf.

[5]      See, for instance, https://ec.europa.eu/commission/commissioners/2019-2024/vestager/announcements/defining-markets-new-age_en.