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Regulating digital gatekeepers: Background on the future digital markets act

08-12-2020

The EU has unveiled an ambitious plan to regulate online platforms, and the European Commission is proposing to introduce ex ante regulation to ensure that markets characterised by large platforms acting as digital gatekeepers remain fair and competitive for innovators, businesses, and new market entrants. The introduction of an ex ante regulatory framework that could limit online platforms' commercial freedom and give wide-ranging enforcement powers to regulators would be a far-reaching step. Against ...

The EU has unveiled an ambitious plan to regulate online platforms, and the European Commission is proposing to introduce ex ante regulation to ensure that markets characterised by large platforms acting as digital gatekeepers remain fair and competitive for innovators, businesses, and new market entrants. The introduction of an ex ante regulatory framework that could limit online platforms' commercial freedom and give wide-ranging enforcement powers to regulators would be a far-reaching step. Against this background, this briefing explains the rationale for regulating digital gatekeepers in the EU and provides an overview of the key policy questions currently under discussion. Recent reports and studies have shown how a few large platforms have the ability to apply a range of practices that raise significant competition issues. The limitation of competition law – essentially applied ex-post after the anti-competitive practices have been implemented – has sparked a debate on whether EU competition rules are still fit for purpose and whether such platforms should not instead be regulated ex ante so as to provide upfront clarity about what behaviour towards users and competitors is acceptable. In this respect, the policy discussion focuses on a number of issues, in particular, how to identify online gatekeepers that should be subject to ex ante regulation, what conduct should be outlawed for those gatekeepers, what obligations should be placed on them (such as data portability and interoperability), and how such innovative regulations should be enforced. Finally, the briefing highlights the initial views of a number of stakeholders.

Safeguarding competition in air transport

20-11-2017

This note seeks to provide an initial analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the European Commission's impact assessment (IA) accompanying the above proposal, adopted on 8 June 2017 and referred to Parliament's Committee on Transport and Tourism (TRAN). The proposal intends to repeal Regulation (EC) No 868/2004 in order to 'ensure a fair level playing field between European and third country air carriers’ (IA, p. 44), ‘with a view to maintain conditions conducive to a high level of connectivity ...

This note seeks to provide an initial analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the European Commission's impact assessment (IA) accompanying the above proposal, adopted on 8 June 2017 and referred to Parliament's Committee on Transport and Tourism (TRAN). The proposal intends to repeal Regulation (EC) No 868/2004 in order to 'ensure a fair level playing field between European and third country air carriers’ (IA, p. 44), ‘with a view to maintain conditions conducive to a high level of connectivity' (explanatory memorandum, p. 8). According to the IA, 'Regulation (EC) No 868/2004 intended to protect EU air carriers against objectively defined practices considered as "unfair" and "discriminatory", namely subsidisation and unfair pricing practices causing injury to EU carriers in the supply of air services to and from third countries' (IA, p. 34). However, for the reasons comprehensively outlined in the IA (pp. 34-36), the regulation 'has never been applied, and some of its features make it very unlikely that it will ever be (concretely) applied' (explanatory memorandum, p. 3). The proposal is part of the 'Open and Connected Aviation' package, which includes three other initiatives. The European Parliament has called for the revision of this regulation in a number of its resolutions, as it had proved inadequate and ineffective. The Council, in its conclusions adopted on 20 December 2012, called for a more ambitious and robust EU external aviation policy, based on the principles of reciprocity and open and fair competition in a level playing field. It considered that this regulation had proved itself unable to adequately address the specific characteristics of the aviation services sector and supported the Commission's intention to analyse possible options for a more effective instrument to safeguard open and fair competition. It also encouraged the Commission and Member States to 'use their bilateral and multilateral relations to actively support the establishment of a level playing field favouring open and fair competition in international air transport' (Recital 24, p. 4).

La política de competencia

01-11-2017

El Tratado de Funcionamiento de la Unión Europea regula la política de competencia en el mercado interior en sus artículos 101 a 109, que prohíben los acuerdos entre empresas que sean contrarios a la libre competencia. Se prohíbe que las empresas que tengan una posición dominante en el mercado abusen de ella para influir en el comercio entre los Estados miembros. La Comisión Europea controla las operaciones de concentración y de absorción de dimensión comunitaria y puede prohibirlas en determinados ...

El Tratado de Funcionamiento de la Unión Europea regula la política de competencia en el mercado interior en sus artículos 101 a 109, que prohíben los acuerdos entre empresas que sean contrarios a la libre competencia. Se prohíbe que las empresas que tengan una posición dominante en el mercado abusen de ella para influir en el comercio entre los Estados miembros. La Comisión Europea controla las operaciones de concentración y de absorción de dimensión comunitaria y puede prohibirlas en determinados casos. Se prohíben también las ayudas de Estado que beneficien a determinadas empresas o productos y que falseen la competencia, aunque en ciertos casos pueden autorizarse. Las normas de competencia se aplican también a las empresas públicas, los servicios públicos y los servicios de interés general. Las normas de competencia pueden quedar sin efecto en caso de que pongan en peligro el cumplimiento de los objetivos de estas prestaciones especiales.

Changing Pipelines, Shifting Strategies: Gas in South-Eastern Europe, and the Implications for Ukraine

01-07-2015

Plans for gas pipelines in south-eastern Europe have experienced great upheaval in recent years, the result of business competition as well as the ongoing stand-off between Europe and Russia. The projects' advances and reversals reflect shifting strategies: those of new suppliers to find clients, those of traditional suppliers to conserve their markets and avoid regulatory impediments, and those of both suppliers and clients to ensure greater reliability. For many, this means planning to bypass Ukraine ...

Plans for gas pipelines in south-eastern Europe have experienced great upheaval in recent years, the result of business competition as well as the ongoing stand-off between Europe and Russia. The projects' advances and reversals reflect shifting strategies: those of new suppliers to find clients, those of traditional suppliers to conserve their markets and avoid regulatory impediments, and those of both suppliers and clients to ensure greater reliability. For many, this means planning to bypass Ukraine. Yet Europe a as a whole does not have a single, coherent strategy. Different European countries have divergent relations with Moscow, and their multiple approaches to energy security impede coherence, particularly when it comes to Ukraine. Even within the EU institutions, the messages sometimes appear contradictory, with political declarations deviating from the technical statements of the European Commission. Ukraine's fate – whether or not it remains a transit country for gas to the EU – depends on multiple factors: its own internal reforms, its integration with the EU market, and the EU's continued support.

The EU's prominent antitrust cases [What Think Tanks are thinking]

08-05-2015

The European Commission is pursuing a number of high-profile investigations in the competition area, highlighting the determination of the new team at the European Union's executive to be a tough enforcer of antitrust laws. Last month, the Commission sent a Statement of Objections to Google, alleging the company has abused its dominant position in the markets for general internet search services. In another Statement of Objections sent out in April, it alleges that some of Gazprom's business practices ...

The European Commission is pursuing a number of high-profile investigations in the competition area, highlighting the determination of the new team at the European Union's executive to be a tough enforcer of antitrust laws. Last month, the Commission sent a Statement of Objections to Google, alleging the company has abused its dominant position in the markets for general internet search services. In another Statement of Objections sent out in April, it alleges that some of Gazprom's business practices in Central and Eastern European gas markets constitute an abuse of the Russian company's dominant market position. This note offers links to commentaries, studies and reports from major international think tanks on the Google and Gazprom cases, as well as on general challenges facing EU competition policies.

China: anti-trust probes targeting foreign firms

22-10-2014

Since 2013, China's anti-trust regulators have drastically stepped up the enforcement of China's competition law against foreign firms. Major EU and Japanese automobile companies have recently been heavily fined for alleged price-fixing and monopolistic conduct.

Since 2013, China's anti-trust regulators have drastically stepped up the enforcement of China's competition law against foreign firms. Major EU and Japanese automobile companies have recently been heavily fined for alleged price-fixing and monopolistic conduct.

EU competition policy: key to a fair Single Market

02-06-2014

The aim of EU competition policy is to safeguard the Single Market by ensuring that enterprises can compete on equal terms. Competition policy encompasses a wide range of areas: antitrust and cartels, merger examination, state aid, the liberalisation of markets and international cooperation. Recent developments include the private antitrust damages actions directive, the recommendation on collective redress and complex modernisation of the state aid rules. Finding effective deterrents to cartels ...

The aim of EU competition policy is to safeguard the Single Market by ensuring that enterprises can compete on equal terms. Competition policy encompasses a wide range of areas: antitrust and cartels, merger examination, state aid, the liberalisation of markets and international cooperation. Recent developments include the private antitrust damages actions directive, the recommendation on collective redress and complex modernisation of the state aid rules. Finding effective deterrents to cartels as well as the appropriate use of settlements, commitments and leniency programmes, remain a challenge.

EU and US competition policies: Similar objectives, different approaches

27-03-2014

Both the EU and the US have well-developed competition policies that aim to prevent and penalise anticompetitive behaviour. Although the EU and US systems share similar aims, there are a number of significant differences. The EU has an administrative system for antitrust enforcement, in which companies are penalised with fines. In contrast, US antitrust enforcement is based on criminal law, with financial and custodial penalties against individuals.

Both the EU and the US have well-developed competition policies that aim to prevent and penalise anticompetitive behaviour. Although the EU and US systems share similar aims, there are a number of significant differences. The EU has an administrative system for antitrust enforcement, in which companies are penalised with fines. In contrast, US antitrust enforcement is based on criminal law, with financial and custodial penalties against individuals.

The Product Safety and Market Surveillance Package

15-01-2014

In view of the trialogue negotiations on the European Commission's two proposals for a regulation on market surveillance of products and on consumer product safety, this briefing note aims to contribute to and strengthen the EP's position on Article 7 of the proposal for a regulation on Consumer product safety relating to origin marking, and the provisions relating to sanctions and penalties proposed in both files. The briefing note presents a comparative table, showing provisions from the EU Customs ...

In view of the trialogue negotiations on the European Commission's two proposals for a regulation on market surveillance of products and on consumer product safety, this briefing note aims to contribute to and strengthen the EP's position on Article 7 of the proposal for a regulation on Consumer product safety relating to origin marking, and the provisions relating to sanctions and penalties proposed in both files. The briefing note presents a comparative table, showing provisions from the EU Customs Code in relation to Article 7 of the proposal for a Regulation on Consumer Product Safety and the US system of marks of origin. It also analyses existing EU legislation containing identical or similar types of provisions on sanctions and penalties as proposed in the final IMCO reports on Consumer Product Safety and Market Surveillance of Products.

Autor externo

Françoise MANIET (University of Québec in Montréal - UQAM, Canada)

Port Services: Initial Appraisal of the Commission's Impact Assessment

08-11-2013

This note seeks to provide an initial analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the European Commission's Impact Assessment accompanying its proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a framework on the market access to port services and the financial transparency of ports (COM (2013) 296), submitted on 23 May 2013. It analyses whether the principal criteria laid down in the Commission’s own Impact Assessment Guidelines, as well as additional factors identified ...

This note seeks to provide an initial analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the European Commission's Impact Assessment accompanying its proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a framework on the market access to port services and the financial transparency of ports (COM (2013) 296), submitted on 23 May 2013. It analyses whether the principal criteria laid down in the Commission’s own Impact Assessment Guidelines, as well as additional factors identified by the Parliament in its Impact Assessment Handbook, appear to be met by the IA. It does not attempt to deal with the substance of the proposal.

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