Digital Ecosystems, Decision-Making, Competition, Consumers

Rupprecht Podszun

Competition authorities in Europe have taken enforcement action against the GAFA-companies (Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple). The “theory of harm” in such cases remains vague, however, and it is disputed whether the cases are really cases for competition law enforcement or should be dealt with in other areas of the law – if there is any problem at all. The submission in the talk is that the agencies react to a shift in strategy by the so-called “super-platforms”: They are no longer acting as neutral intermediaries that primarily reduce transaction costs but meddle with the decision-making process of consumers and other companies.

In his talk, Professor Podszun submits economic and normative elements for a theory of harm in such cases. In his view, the agencies preserve the decision-making capacity of market participants – “digital autonomy” is, in his view, a key element of markets. Still, the question remains how competition law should react to the growing concerns with digital ecosystems. The talk therefore shall also serve as an impulse for discussing the overhaul of competition law that is under debate in Europe now.

Rupprecht Podszun is Professor for Civil Law, German and European Competition Law at the Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf and an Affiliated Research Fellow with the Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition. After working as a case handler at the German national competition agency, he was a postdoc at the MPI from 2007-2012. In 2013, he took a Chair at the University of Bayreuth before being called to the University of Düsseldorf in 2016. He specialises in competition law, mainly working on abusive practices, merger control and institutional issues. Rupprecht is frequently consulted by German and European policymakers. He is a board member of ASCOLA, an editor of two interesting law journals, EuCML and WuW, and he runs the blog

The lecture will be held on Friday, April 12, 2019, at 12:30 pm at the Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition (room E10), Marstallplatz 1, 80539 Munich.