Members' Research Service By / January 14, 2021

Regulating digital gatekeepers: Background on the future digital markets act [Policy Podcast]

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.

© ipopba / Adobe Stock

Written by Tambiama Madiega,

Businessman using mobile smartphone and icon network connection data with growth graph customer, digital marketing, banking and payment online, analysis and planning of business.
© ipopba / Adobe Stock

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.


Read the complete briefing on ‘Regulating digital gatekeepers: Background on the future digital markets act‘.

Listen to policy podcast ‘Regulating digital gatekeepers: Background on the future digital markets act’ on YouTube.


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