BEUC kicks off competition and big data project

BEUC NEWS - 25.01.2018

BEUC is launching a project about how consumer welfare standards in competition law should be adapted to deal with the challenge of increasingly digital markets.


An essential function of EU competition policy is to safeguard people’s freedoms to choose and to participate in the market economy. Consumers must be able to compare prices and get accurate information to make informed choices between various service providers and products.

With big data becoming a centrepiece of our economies, it is ever more important that competition law is state of the art and that enforcers have the tools to confront new challenges.

The current notion of consumer welfare mainly looks at economic aspects of consumption such as the price. It does not usually include non-price elements such as the quality of a product. This restricted approach fails to realistically assess the consumer welfare effect in so-called ‘zero-price’ markets, which typically offer products or services – supposedly – for free but in fact are built on the exploitation of consumers’ data.

Prof. Ariel Ezrachi (University of Oxford) will be BEUC’s academic advisor to develop recommendations about how the consumer welfare standard should be applied in digital markets.

About Prof. Ezrachi

Ariel Ezrachi is the Slaughter and May Professor of Competition Law at the University of Oxford and the Director of the University of Oxford Centre for Competition Law and Policy. He develops training and capacity building programmes in competition law and policy for the private and public sectors and advises competition authorities and law firms on competition issues. He is the co-editor-in-chief of the Journal of Antitrust Enforcement (OUP) and the author, co-author and editor of numerous books, including Virtual Competition – The Promise and Perils of the Algorithm-Driven Economy (2016, Harvard) and EU Competition Law, An Analytical Guide to the Leading Cases (5th ed, 2016, Hart). Professor Ezrachi’s research and commentary have been featured in The Economist, The New Yorker, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, The Guardian, Nikkei, Times Higher Education, Harvard Business Review, and other international outlets.