How should Europe address gatekeeping platforms?


On 19 February 2020, the European Commission presented its strategy to make Europe fit for the digital age. To guarantee a level playing field amongst actors, the Commission is looking at possible adaptations of EU competition rules in the digital era as well as at options for an ex-ante regulatory framework for gatekeeping platforms.

On 4 March, CERRE brought together representatives from national and European competition authorities, policy-makers, key industry players and academic experts to contribute to this debate. Gathering more than 100 participants, the Seminar started with the presentation of a paper on 'Designing an EU Intervention Standard for Digital Platforms' by Alexandre de Streel (University of Namur & CERRE) and Peter Alexiadis (Partner, Gibson Dunn & Visiting Professor, Kings College London).

This paper reviews precedents under EU competition law and economic regulation upon which a reform of the public instruments could be based so that they are fit for the digital age. The authors put forward recommendations to adapt competition rules, in particular regarding the determination of market power and the application of theories of harm. They propose a cumulative 'three criteria test' to determine the types of digital platforms upon which competition rules, and possibly complementary regulation, should focus. Finally, the paper suggests adapting antitrust guidelines to extend the power of DG Competition to conduct fully-fledged market investigations and to work more closely with National Regulatory Agencies.

Amelia Fletcher, Professor of Competition Policy at the Centre for Competition Policy (University of East Anglia) and co-author of the report ‘Unlocking digital competition’ (also known as the ‘Furman report’) provided her feedback on the above-mentioned paper. She acknowledged the valuable contribution that the paper brings to the debate. She emphasized the need for a global discussion on these matters and for coordinated action at trans-national level.

The report and presentations from speakers can be found on the event page.