How should competition policy react to coronavirus?
In addition to causing loss of life on a tragic scale, coronavirus, and the lockdown policies to suppress and reverse its spread, are causing great short-term economic disruption. They will also have lasting economic consequences. Competition and consumer protection authorities can and should play an important role in addressing the short-term harm to consumers and markets and, at least as important, can and should contribute to a robust and sustainable post-crisis recovery over the longer term.
Competition authorities have a huge task ahead of them. They will need to adapt and refocus their work in response to the reshaping of the economy that will occur as it recovers from the coronavirus recession. The crisis has further highlighted pre-existing deficiencies in the legal framework for competition and consumer protection law; unless these are addressed, the task of adaptation will be all the greater.
This paper is split in to two parts. The first outlines briefly the work that the CMA is currently undertaking to respond rapidly and robustly to the immediate threats to competitive outcomes for consumers (for example, concerns over price gouging, firms not honouring the right to a refund on cancellation of services). The second part looks at the potential longer-term contribution of competition policy to the recovery.