Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Keep Calm and Carry on Applying the Existing Rules – EU Competition Law and the Digital Economy

Marios C. Iacovides, Swedish Competition Authority; Uppsala University - Faculty of Law; Bocconi University - Department of Law and Jakob Jeanrond, Stockholm University suggest Keep Calm and Carry on Applying the Existing Rules – EU Competition Law and the Digital Economy.

ABSTRACT: The aim of this paper is to argue that, based on the authors' current experience, the existing rules of EU competition law are mostly adequate to deal with the particular competition problems that may be posed by the digital economy. This has two implications. First, it means that focus does not need to shift from application of the existing rules to figuring out what amendments or additions have to be made to the existing rules. Secondly, legal certainty is enhanced, since it becomes clearer that the rules will apply in their existing form even in the digital environment.

The authors exemplify how the understanding of multisided markets gained at the Swedish Competition Authority (SCA) in several digital platform markets, including the market for online booking of hotel rooms, the market for online listings of properties, and the market for online orders of take away food, can provide valuable insights on how to tackle issues arising from the digital economy. The case studies show how applying the more recently developed economic theory on platform markets allows for a successful application of existing competition law. Moreover, common predictions on the economic behaviour of platform markets, as can be found in the academic literature, are tested against the experiences drawn from the aforementioned investigations. In addition to providing a robustness check on common assertions made on the functioning of platform markets the paper seeks to contribute to a better understanding of such markets by adding to the debate on when these common assertions are more or less likely to hold.

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