by Dr. Michael EsserDr. Max HauserDr. Jan HöftProf. Dr. Sven B. VölckerDr. Jana K. Dammann de ChaptoJudith W. Jacop

The Digitalization Act, which entered into force on January 19, 2021, substantially extends the scope of German antitrust law to tackle presumed enforcement challenges in the digital economy and raises merger control thresholds across all industries.

The Digitalization Act is the 10th amendment of the German Competition Act (GWB), the so-called GWB10. The most prominent changes include:

  1. A new quasi-regulatory tool to prohibit certain conduct patterns of platforms on multi-sided markets and networks (§ 19a). This new tool is combined with a shortening of the judicial review process (§ 73(5)) — appeals can now only be heard by the Federal Court of Justice (FCJ).
  2. A new ex ante tool that, in essence, prohibits conduct that may amount to a tipping of the market as “unfair impediment of competitors” (§ 20(3a)).
  3. Higher merger control thresholds that will significantly reduce the number of notifiable transactions across all industries (§ 35(1)).

This Alert provides an overview of these three major changes. Latham & Watkins will discuss additional changes in GWB10 that are highly relevant in practice, especially new and extended rules on access to data (e.g., § 19(4), §20(1a)), in upcoming Alerts.