Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter of the Antitrust Division led the Department of Justice’s delegation at the International Competition Network’s (ICN) 21st annual conference, hosted by the German Bundeskartellamt in Berlin, Germany, on May 4-6. Delegates from the ICN’s member jurisdictions included agency leadership and staff, competition experts from international organizations and the legal, business, academic and consumer communities. Over 80 jurisdictions participated in the conference. Assistant Attorney General Kanter delivered a keynote address on criminal enforcement policy and cooperation with law enforcement partners.
“The pandemic compelled us to find creative ways to maintain and deepen our international cooperation efforts,” said Assistant Attorney General Kanter. “Nevertheless, it is wonderful to engage again in-person with our ICN counterparts, especially to discuss the pressing competition issues we currently face.”
The conference showcased the achievements of the ICN’s Advocacy, Agency Effectiveness, Cartel, Merger and Unilateral Conduct Working Groups and examined a range of competition enforcement and policy issues. A main theme of the conference focused on planning for the third decade of the network. The continuing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and digital markets on competition law also featured prominently.
During his keynote, Assistant Attorney General Kanter discussed the division’s updates to its leniency policy, expanding its litigation capabilities and cooperating with our enforcement partners. Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard Powers discussed cartel enforcement in the next decade with a focus on priorities and trends beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. The Cartel Working group breakout sessions focused on bid rigging in public procurement, international cooperation in cross-border cartels and leniency.
The Merger Working Group’s plenary focused on challenges in merger control. Patty Brink, Senior Counsel for International and Intergovernmental Engagement, participated in a breakout session discussing killer acquisitions and reverse killer acquisitions. An additional Merger Working Group breakout session focused on economic tools to assist competition agencies analyze large volumes of data. The Merger Working Group also began reviewing the ICN Recommended Practices Chapter on entry and expansion.
Lynda Marshall, Chief of the International Section, also participated in a breakout session discussing the ICN Framework on Competition Agency Procedures (CAP). Introduced in 2019, the CAP provides a non-binding, opt-in framework that promotes agreement between competition agencies on procedural norms in competition law enforcement. There are currently 73 CAP participants.
The Advocacy Working Group’s plenary focused on enabling effective international enforcement through competition advocacy. Advocacy Working Group breakout sessions focused on the interplay between regulators and competition agencies, advocating competition principles for the provision of digital services and gender-inclusive competition policy.
The Agency Effectiveness Working Group’s plenary focused on how the COVID-19 pandemic changed competition agencies’ investigative process. Agency Effectiveness Working Group breakout sessions focused on tools competition agencies use to better understand markets affected by the pandemic, strategic planning and the digital transformation of competition agencies.
The Unilateral Conduct Working Group’s plenary focused on regulatory and competition law tools in digital markets. Unilateral Conduct Working Group breakout sessions focused on procedural tools, theories of harm in digital markets, and remedies.
The ICN was created in October 2001 to increase understanding of competition policy and promote convergence toward sound antitrust enforcement around the world. It was founded by 15 agencies, including the Antitrust Division, has grown to 140 agencies from 130 jurisdictions, supported by a wide network of non-governmental advisors from around the world.