Platforms have become a common tool in a number of industries. In the electricity sector, for instance, the wholesale price is determined by the capacity bids offered by the generators via power exchange platforms. Similarly, the stock exchange and other financial derivatives markets allow the matching of supply and demand in real time. In parallel with these “traditional” platforms, during the past years firms operating in the digital economy have developed “online” platforms as core business models, such as search engines, social media and price comparison web-sites. Online platforms carry out a function, which is similar to “traditional” platforms: they allow internet users to find information, by thus facilitating the interaction of supply and demand in relation to goods and services sold online.
From an antitrust perspective, “traditional” and “online” platforms raise a number of anti-competitive concerns, and they have been subject to a number of investigations by several competition authorities during the past years. First of all, platforms are often characterized by multi-sided markets, which generate difficulties in the definition of the relevant market and market power in antitrust investigations. Second, as discussed in recent interest rate derivatives cartels sanctioned by the EU Commission and in the pending ruling of the European Court of Justice in Eturas case, platforms may facilitate concerted practices among the market participants. Furthermore, relying on its market power the platform may include anti-competitive clauses in the agreements concluded with their users; the Most Favoured Nations (MFN) clause sanctioned in Booking.com and HRS cases and the discriminatory clauses concluded by Amazon and Apple with a number of publishing houses in relation to the sale of e-books are good examples to this regard. Furthermore, platforms may facilitate unilateral conduct, such as the withdrawal of capacity in power exchange markets. Finally, the Google case shows that online platforms may also carry out new forms of unilateral conduct, which have not been sanctioned under antitrust law before.
The workshop aims at gathering academics, practitioners, representatives of National Competition Authorities (NCAs) and firms to discuss recent challenges posed by the enforcement of antitrust rules in relation to “traditional” v. “online” platforms. In addition, the workshop provides the opportunity to is the occasion to present the first ENTraNCE for Executives Annual Training, which will start in 2016.
Deadline for registration: 20th November Download the programme.