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Shaping competition policy in the era of digitisation

On 17 January 2019, Margrethe Vestager, Commissioner for Competition, will host a one-day conference featuring a keynote speech by Nobel laureate Professor Jean Tirole, in Brussels on

'Shaping competition policy in the era of digitisation'.

As Commissioner Vestager said in a speech on 18 September 2017, being open to new ideas is especially important now because markets are going through enormous changes as a result of continuing technological developments.

This is why Commissioner Vestager appointed a panel of three advisers from outside the Commission. The panel is made up of Professors Heike Schweitzer, Jacques Crémer and Assistant Professor Yves-Alexandre de Montjoye. They are working on a report on the future challenges of digitisation for competition policy, to be delivered by 31 March 2019.

Commissioner Vestager has also announced her intention to organise a conference to discuss the topic with a broad variety of contributors.

The conference will feature a keynote speech by Professor Jean Tirole and will include three panel discussions, each chaired by one of the Commissioner's special advisers. The topics of the panel discussions are outlined below.

The conference and the report from the Special Advisers are designed to provide input to the Commission's ongoing reflection process about how competition policy can best serve European consumers in a fast-changing world. The conference may also help to identify problems and solutions as markets go through rapid changes. The objective is to identify the key upcoming digital challenges and their implications for competition policy.

In this context, the European Commission is seeking contributions in particular from those stakeholders that are involved in or affected by the digitisation of the economy. These contributions will also serve to inform and feed into the discussions at the conference. Contributors may cover one or more of the topics below, in general terms, or focussing on the industries in which they are active or the issues in which they are more interested.

To contribute: Simply e-mail your contribution to

Contributions should be no longer than 10 pages or 4,000 words and should be sent by e-mail by 30 September 2018. Respondents are advised that their contributions will be published on the Commission's website. They should therefore indicate whether the contributions contain any business secrets, confidential information or personal data, and, if so, also provide at the same time a non-confidential version of the contribution.

Topics for discussion

The discussions should encourage reflections on the implications of digitisation for competition policy.

Panel 1

COMPETITION, DATA, PRIVACY, AND AI. In a world of ubiquitous data, thanks to, for example, 5G, the Internet of Things and connected cars, where would we have data bottlenecks – or, conversely, data access, data sharing or data pooling – causing competition issues? In which ways should privacy concerns serve as an element of the competition assessment? Since data is the raw material of artificial intelligence, how do we ensure that AI technology is as competitive as possible?

Panel 2

DIGITAL PLATFORMS' MARKET POWER. The interests of platforms are not always aligned with the interests of their users, which can, as a result of platforms' market power, give rise in particular to: a) leveraging concerns (digital platforms leveraging their positions from one market to another); and b) lock-in concerns (network externalities, switching costs, better service due to accessibility of data make it difficult for users to migrate to other platforms, and allow platforms to “exploit” their user bases). What should/can competition policy do to address these concerns and how?

Panel 3

PRESERVING DIGITAL INNOVATION THROUGH COMPETITION POLICY. Do network effects, economies of scale and 'copycat' products impede innovation? In digital merger cases, is there scope to apply theories of harm based on a loss of innovation and/or loss of "potential competition" more often? Would a focus on innovation require updating our analytical tools?

More details of the conference, including a full list of speakers, how to register etc., will be published at a later date on the website of DG Competition.

Questions about the conference should be addressed to