Competition policy responses to COVID-19


The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has provoked a public health crisis without precedent in living memory. In addition to causing large-scale loss of life and severe human suffering, the pandemic has also set in motion a major economic crisis that will burden our societies for years to come. The OECD is contributing to a co-ordinated policy response across countries and competition policy is one dimension of that response.

History has shown that the same basic principles of competition economics apply during times of economic recession as during times of economic expansion. Sound competition policy is all the more important in moments of crisis to ensure that the crisis is solved and the subsequent economic recovery, as fast and sustained as possible. This requires competition authorities to act today to help the overall policy response of governments to deal with this crisis in a sustainable way. Governments need to be receptive to advise from competition authorities to make sure that competition principles can be respected and help pave the way to recovery.

This page groups competition-related responses that can help guide the actions of governments and competition authorities in today's challenging times. 



Frédéric Jenny

Diana Moss

Mark Powell

Peter Alexiadis

Massimo Motta 

John Davies 

Richard Whish 


Key materials

COVID-19 emergency government support and ensuring a level playing field on the road to recovery 21/10/2021

This brief considers ways to ensure that short-term COVID-19 crisis responses do not result in unintended negative implications for competition and trade in the medium- and long-term. It highlights the competition and trade policy tools governments can use to effectively balance the needs of pandemic responses while ensuring that they do not undermine efforts to maintain a level playing field, domestically and globally.


OECD competition policy responses to COVID-19  27/04/2020

This policy brief discusses how competition policy can help address the immediate challenges raised by the COVID crisis while preparing for the post-pandemic future. Also available in Spanish.


COVID-19: Competition policy actions for governments and competition authorities  30/04/2020

This short note outlines actions that governments and competition authorities can consider to help address the immediate challenges raised by the crisis whilst looking to the post-pandemic future. 


COVID-19: Managing operational challenges and enforcement risks for competition authorities  30/04/2020

This note looks at the operational challenges and enforcement risks for competition authorities arising from the crisis and the confinement measures and provides some guidance to authorities.  


COVID-19: Competition and emergency procurement  30/04/2020

This note examines the conditions when direct awards may be necessary for emergency reasons and provides guidance for procurement and competition authorities for when departing from competitive tenders may be justified.  


Merger control in the time of COVID-19  25/05/2020

In the context of COVID-19, this note analyses some key challenges related to merger control that competition authorities will face in the following months and presents open issues that require further discussion to ensure consistency across jurisdictions.


Exploitative pricing in the time of COVID-19  26/05/2020

This note analyses the role of competition agencies facing high prices caused by the Covid-19 crisis. It discusses the circumstances under which competition enforcement may be justified, how to overcome the difficulties that competition authorities pursuing such a course are likely to face, and available regulatory alternatives to address high prices during a pandemic.


Co-operation between competitors in the time of COVID-19  26/05/2020

This note identifies some of the criteria that competition authorities may consider when assessing co-operation between competitors in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, and presents solutions to some of the challenges raised by their analysis. Some potential issues are highlighted to prompt further discussion.

PODCAST: What lessons can we learn for competition and global markets?

In this podcast, Frederic Jenny, Professor of Economics at ESSEC Business School in Paris and chair of the OECD Competition Committee explores questions such as: Why have our economies been so badly affected by the coronavirus crisis? What questions does the crisis raise about globalisation, and about markets? Can competition policy help? How can governments be better prepared in future?


VIDEO: Economic resilience and competition policy in the time of COVID-19

In this video, Frederic Jenny, Professor of Economics at ESSEC and Chair of the OECD Competition Committee, shares his views on the impact of COVID-19 on global economies and how markets have responded to the social and economic challenges raised by the health and economic crisis that follows it. He also explores, in particular, the challenges faced by competition policy and authorities. 


PAPER: Economic Resilience, Globalisation and Market Governance: Facing the Covid-19 Test

This opinion piece by Frederic Jenny reflects on economic, competition and social policy issues in the time of COVID-19.


OECD-GVH July 2020 Newsletter: Special Supplement on COVID-19

This special supplement to the July 2020 newsletter of the OECD-GVH Centre for Competition compiles OECD work on the topic and contains articles by competition experts on their country's experiences. Read it here.  Also available in Russian. Access all centre's newsletters here.


ROUNDTABLE: The role of competition policy in promoting economic recovery


The OECD Competition Committee will hold a virtual roundtable to discuss how can competition policy and competition authorities contribute to a faster and more sustained economic recovery. 

Read more about this discussion

ICN/OECD WEBINAR: Competition Investigations during the COVID-19 Crisis


As part of a broader project aiming to improve international co-operation on enforcement, the OECD and the ICN held a joint webinar for competition authorities to discuss investigations during the COVID-19 crisis. Frédéric Jenny (Chair of the Competition Committee) and Andreas Mundt (Steering Group Chair of the ICN and President of the Bundeskartellamt) opened the event. Interveners from the competition authorities of Australia, Brazil, the Caribbean, Canada, Chinese Taipei, the European Commission, Lithuania, South Africa, the US and the UK gave their perspectives on the issues they have tackled. The webinar allowed authorities to share information that was timely and relevant to the operational decisions they were making at the time.


Key materials discussed during the event

Australia ACCC response to COVID-19 pandemic Link to an external site icon 

South Africa Competition Commission Media Statement: Commission cracks down on excessive pricing Link to an external site icon

European Commission: Antitrust rules and coronavirus Link to an external site icon

Joint statement by the European Competition Network (ECN) on the application of competition law during the Corona crisis Link to an external site icon

UK CMA launches COVID-19 taskforce Link to an external site icon


WEBINAR: Merger Control in times of crisis 26/05/2020

Merger control will have an important role to play in the following months and years as a result of the COVID crisis. The pandemic raises a number of substantive challenges that authorities will need to deal with, including how to assess competitive effects of mergers in times of uncertainty and the role of the failing firm defence. 

Over 220 participants from competition authorities of more than 60 jurisdictions attended two webinars on Merger Control in times of crisis. Expert speakers included Massimo Motta (ICREA Research Professor, Universitat Pompeu Fabra and Barcelona Graduate School of Economics), Peter Alexiadis (Visiting Professor at King’s College and Partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher), Diana Moss (President, American Antitrust Institute) and Mark Powell (Partner, White & Case). In addition, 16 authorities presented their experiences and views during the discussion. 

Materials available

Agendas: Morning webinar • Afternoon webinar

Videos with speakers presentations: Massimo Mota • Peter Alexiadis • Mark PowellDiana Moss

WEBINAR: Antitrust in times of Crisis 28/05/2020

Over 230 participants from 65 jurisdictions attended two webinars on Antitrust in times of Crisis where experts and agency representatives discussed the challenges from the COVID-19 crisis for enforcement activities against anti-competitive agreements and excessive pricing.

Expert speaker Richard Whish (King’s College London) presented on competitor collaboration and gave his thoughts on the flexibility of the existing legal frameworks, while John Davies (Compass Lexecon) provided his thoughts as an economist on how to deal with prices spikes. In addition, 16 other jurisdictions presented their experiences over during the discussion. 


Materials available

Agendas: Morning webinar • Afternoon webinar

Videos with speakers presentations: Richard WhishJohn Davies


ROUNDTABLE: Competition Policy in the Time of Covid-19

Around 180 participants attended a virtual roundtable by the Competition Committee on co-operation between competition authorities and other public policy makers in times of crisis, and in particular, during the present Covid-19 crisis. OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría opened the discussions which were followed by presentations by two keynote speakers: Sir John Stuart Vickers, (Drummond Professor of Political Economy at the University of Oxford) and Janusz Ordover (Professor of Economics, University of New York). Following these presentations, a panel discussion allowed heads of competition authorities to share the experience of their agencies on the topic.

The session provided an opportunity to reflect on lessons learned, particularly, but not only, the financial crisis of 2008, and discussed practical solutions on how to best interact with governments in a way that preserves well-functioning and competitive markets in this crisis. 

Read the SG’s introductory speech

Executive Summary with key findings

Detailed Summary of the discussion


Related OECD Competition work
Competitive Neutrality (2015)

Competition, State Aids and Subsidies (2010)

Competition Policy, Industrial Policy and National Champions (2009)

Industrial Policy and the Promotion of Domestic Industry (2018)

OECD Recommendation on Hard-Core Cartels (2019)

OECD Competition Assessment Toolkit (2019)

Crisis Cartels (2011)

Exit Strategies (2010) 

Excessive Prices (2011)

Excessive Prices in Pharmaceutical Markets (2018)

Information Exchanges between Competitors under Competition Law (2010)

Interface between Competition and Consumer Policies (2008)

Public Interest Considerations in Merger Control (2016)

Failing Firm Defence (2009)

Related links

OECD Covid-19 Impact hub

OECD work on competition



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