Opening the gate: Why and how to regulate large platforms acting as gatekeepers?
On Tuesday, 10th of November 2020 at 15.00 PubAffairs Bruxelles was delighted to hold an evening discussion on the upcoming Digital Services Act package and how to regulate large platforms acting as gatekeepers with our distinguished speakers Mr Werner Stengg, Cabinet Member, EVP Margrethe Vestager, European Commission, Ms Stéphanie Yon-Courtin MEP (Renew/FR), ECON Vice-Chair and IMCO Member, European Parliament, Mr Robert Dehm, Digital Policy and Telecommunication Counsellor, German Presidency of the Council of the European Union, Mr Carel Maske, Director, Competition, Microsoft and Mr Fadhel Lakhoua, Director, Regulatory Affairs, Orange.
EVENT DISCUSSION moderated by Philippe Defraigne
This event was kindly sponsored by
About the debate
Under the second priority of the President von der Leyen-led European Commission’s ‘A Europe fit for the digital age’, at the beginning of this year, the EU executive body has started the elaboration of a new legislative action with the principal aims of reinforcing the EU single market for digital services, fostering innovation and enhancing competitiveness of the European online environment. Described as Europe’s first large overhaul of the approach to regulating the European online space for two decades, the Digital Services Act package is largely focused on online services, such as search engines, social media and e-commerce platforms. Those platforms have emerged as crucial actors of the digital transition, not only in terms of innovation and economic growth, but also for their societal effects and impacts on the European rule of law and democracy.
Some of them have developed a gatekeeping role over the years which can question consumers’ choice, or EU innovation and competitiveness and which raises the issue about how can we ensure that the digital economy remains fair and contestable. While competition law can address some of the concerns as shown by past decisions, there is a growing trend arguing in favour of imposing additional specific rules to efficiently tackle structural competition problems exerted by large digital platforms acting as gatekeepers. While such an issue is structuring for the future of the internal market it also is complex: there is a need for new rules but for who, on what and how?
These are the questions addressed by the Digital Services Act and by the New Competition Tool Commission initiative. The European Parliament is adopting its reports on the very matters paving the way for a better framing of the responsibilities of gatekeepers. Similarly the European Council in its 1 and 2 October meeting conclusions called for an update of competition law and for exploring the possibility of adopting rules on the systemic role and responsibilities of online platforms with significant network effects. Finally, numerous stakeholders answered the Commission’s consultations, including platforms and telecom operators. Among them, Orange has emphasised that it is essential to ensure that the online world remains competitive and contestable.
The reform of the EU rules applicable to European online space, with special regard to large platforms acting as gatekeepers, will have to take into consideration the current state of play of the digital single market and its possible evolutions. It should also take into consideration the impacts of any new rules on the various actors of the digital economy, and, as a result, to what extent Europe will be able to strengthen its competitiveness and digital sovereignty and set both internal and global standards on such a structuring initiative.
About the speakers
Werner Stengg, who joined the European institutions in 1996, is currently a cabinet expert on the cabinet of Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, dealing with digital matters. Between 2006 and 2019, he held different head of unit positions across the European Commission, dealing with e-commerce and online platforms, public interest services, online gambling and postal services, and with the better regulation agenda. Prior to that, he was involved in mainstreaming policy evaluation across the Commission, in the negotiation of bilateral and multilateral textile trade agreements, and in the negotiations on regulatory files in the areas of aviation and maritime transport. He earned his doctoral degree in economics from the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration.
Stéphanie Yon-Courtin is a Member of the European Parliament (Renew Group), Vice-President of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) and substitute member of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO), on the Fisheries, (PECH) and of the sub-committee on taxation (FISC). She was rapporteur for the 2019 annual competition policy report. She is also Chair of the delegation for relations with Canada and a member of the delegation for relations with the United States. Stéphanie is also a member of the Calvados Departmental Council. Prior to her election as an MEP in 2019, she was Mayor of Saint-Contest, and a Vice-President of the urban community Caen la Mer. Prior to that, Stéphanie worked as an advisor on international affairs in the office of Bruno Lasserre, former President of the French Competition Authority. She was admitted to the Paris Bar in 2004, specialising in competition law, and worked in international law firms. She also worked as a legal expert in the European Commission. Stéphanie holds a Master’s degree in law from the Universities of Caen and Bristol, and a Master’s degree in European Business Law from the Institute of European Studies. She is 45 years old, married and mother of two children. She is president of the association “Caen les femmes” created in 2011. She has been a regular contributor to the international political section of the journal Concurrences.
Robert Anton Dehm is a Counsellor in the Permanent Representation of Germany to the EU and currently chairs the Council Working Party for Telecommunications and Information Society of the German Presidency of the Council of the EU. From 2015 to 2016 he was a Policy Officer at the Unit for Economic and Societal Aspects of the Digital Agenda, Digital Sovereignty at the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy. Previously, he held the position of First Secretary for Industry Policy at the German Embassy to the United States, in Washington DC and served as Co-Chairman for the Member States Group of the Advisory Council of Aeronautic Research and Innovation in Europe (ACARE). He studied economics at the Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany.
Carel Maske is Senior Attorney with Microsoft in Brussels covering antitrust in the EMEA region including competition policy, counselling and compliance as well as managing antitrust-related investigations and litigation. In this role he develops and implements compliance programs and provides antitrust trainings for the legal department and the business. Before moving to Microsoft, Carel Maske had practiced competition law with Latham & Watkins in Brussels and Frankfurt and with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in Berlin. His expertise extends to unilateral conduct, IP and antitrust, vertical and horizontal cooperations, cartel investigations and merger control proceedings. Carel Maske speaks regularly on competition policy and compliance topics at antitrust conferences.
Fadhel Lakhoua joined Orange in 2019 as Director of EU and Economics at the Regulatory Affairs Directorate. Between 2005 and 2019, Fadhel was Director of Financial Affairs and Wholesale Markets Surveillance of CRE, the French energy regulator. In his former capacity, he was also Co-Chair of the ACER’s Market Integrity and Transparency Working Group (between 2017 and 2019). Fadhel began his career in 1994 in the banking sector with Caisse des Dépôts, IXIS, IXIS Asset Management and Caisse Nationale des Caisses d’Epargne, where he held various positions, as Economist, in Project Finance, Strategic planning and M&A.
About the moderator
A founding director of Cullen International in 1988, Philippe has worked extensively on EU regulation affecting the telecoms and internet sectors and the implementation at national level across Europe. He is widely regarded in the industry as one of the leading experts in the field. Philippe pioneered the practice of cross-country benchmarking of national regulation – the core methodology used across all of Cullen International’s intelligence services. He leads business development activities for the company – focussing on building Cullen International’s business outside of Europe, in particular in Latin America, the Middle East & North Africa. Philippe frequently presents Cullen International research at industry conferences, client briefings and training courses.