On 9 September 2019 the expert commission “Competition Law 4.0” presented its report and recommendations concerning a new European competition law framework for the digital economy. The Commission of Experts was appointed by the German Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, Peter Altmaier, in particular, to focus on competition law issues related to digital data economics and platform markets. In this regard, Minister Altmaier directed the Expert Commission to compile recommendations regarding improvements to the European and German competition law framework which was now presented officially.
The Expert Commission’s proposal is expected to be used to prepare the envisaged legislative change of the EU competition law during the German European Council presidency in the second part of 2020. The first step will be an assessment by the German Government. Thus, the proposal should be considered as a long term perspective which will have to undergo the EU legislative implementation processes. The report and the respective recommendations concern, in particular, the new digital economies of data, the legal regulation of digital platforms as well as cross-market digital ecosystems.
The Expert Commission stressed that the collection, combination and analysis of data are essential for digital innovation and are therefore an important part of many digital business models. Advantages in relation to data access might, in particular, result in important competitive advantages. In order to ensure effective competition on digital markets, the Expert Commission held that the sovereignty of consumers related to their data should be strengthened, in particular, by legally granting them portability of their data between different digital service providers, and respectively granting free/unhindered data access to new digital providers. In relation to online platforms, the Expert Commission recommended in particular, the revision of the EU Commission’s Notice on the definition of the relevant market as well as the release of a new Notice on market definition and market power determination in relation to digital platforms. The Expert Commission also recommended the implementation of European regulation regarding digital platforms which would prohibit dominant platforms to favor their own services in relation to third party services. Further, dominant platforms should be obliged to enable users to port their data to competing platforms in real time and in an interoperable format. Furthermore, regarding co-operation between companies in the digital sector, the Expert Commission also recommended enhancing legal certainty, as the current legal situation causes uncertainties deterring companies from entering new forms of co-operation, in particular, with regard to exchanging, sharing and collecting data. Therefore the Expert Commission recommended implementing a voluntary filing process at the European level for co-operation raising antitrust issues and being of high economic importance.