Prague, Czechia


Key Aspect of the 2021 Austrian Competition Law Reform Peter Thyri University of Vienna Department of European, International and Comparative Law Juridicum, Schottenbastei 10 – 16, Vienna, A-1010 Austria e-mail: Abstract This paper presents the key amendments to Austrian competition law introduced in fall 2021 (KaWeRÄG 2021). It describes how the Austrian legislature, in implementing rather minor adaptations called for by the ECN+ Directive, also substantially addressed the debate on sustainability and competition law, dealt with the growing competition challenges in digital markets and readjusted the merger control provisions. The amendments include a revision of Austria’s revenue-based merger control threshold, the introduction of the significant lessening of competition test, and a broadening of the scope of potential public interest justifications. As to restrictive agreements, sustainability considerations as a potential justification of restrictive agreements are recognized. Finally, the amendments add to the definition of dominance and relative market power based on criteria relevant to digital markets and confer jurisdiction to the Cartel Court to rule that companies active in multi-sided digital markets hold a dominant position. Keywords: ECN+, digital markets, sustainability, merger control, relative dominance. JEL Classification: K490, K210 1. Introduction A number of rather significant changes to Austria’s competition enforcement system (Thyri, 2007) entered into force on 10 September 2021, alongside minor procedural and inter-institutional changes that shall not be further addressed for the purposes of this conference (Hartung/Reidlinger ecolex 2021). The Austrian legislature thus used its obligation under EU law to implement the ECN+ directive, which did however not call for major changes to national law due to the already previously rather advanced standards of Austrian competition law enforcement (Thyri in Terhechte, 2008), to introduce some potentially ground-breaking material changes that may propel the country to the forefront of innovative competition law enforcement EU- if not worldwide.


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