On 2 June 2020, the European Commission published an inception impact assessment regarding possible new tools to tackle structural competition issues arising on digital and non-digital markets. The Commission also published a separate inception impact assessment and open public consultation, requesting stakeholder contributions on how to address issues with large platforms acting as ‘gatekeepers’ to digital markets (as part of the Digital Services Act package). Stakeholders may submit comments on both of the impact assessments until 30 June 2020, and may respond to the questionnaire and submit contributions to the consultation until 8 September 2020.

In addition to the continued enforcement of competition rules, the Commission is seeking to widen its approach by obtaining new investigative and regulatory powers over digital platforms and markets.

The Commission’s consultations notably aim at:

  • Enhancing the Commission’s investigative powers, and its ability to impose behavioural and structural remedies to avert “adverse effects on competition” by dominant companies;
  • Establishing specific rules for platforms that, the Commission considers, play a ‘gatekeeper’ role in their respective markets, having the ability to negatively impact these markets or prevent competitors from emerging.

These tools would be part of a general context of an in-depth examination of the markets and players in the digital sector. They will be developed in the context of the Digital Services Act, but also of national initiatives aimed at increasing control over predatory or ‘killer’ acquisitions, pushes for ex ante control over dominant companies or “gatekeepers” in innovative or fast-evolving sectors, and discussions regarding the role of platforms over their content. The tools examined by the Commission are discussed in more detail in the alert published by our team here.