UCL Faculty of Laws


Digital Platforms and the Widening EU/US Competition Law and Regulation Gap

21 February 2018, 4:30 pm–7:00 pm

Digital Platforms and the Widening EU/US Competition Law and Regulation Gap

Event Information

Open to



UCL Centre for Law, Economics & Society


UCL Anatomy Building, JZ Young Lecture Theatre

Digital Platforms and the Widening EU/US Competition Law and Regulation Gap: about Google Search and Net Neutrality



  • Ioannis Lianos, Professor of Global Competition Law and Public Policy; Director, Centre for Law, Economics and Society, UCL


  • Brice Allibert, Deputy Head of Unit, Antitrust: IT, Internet and Consumer electronics, DG COMP, Brussels
  • Oliver Bethel, Director - EMEA Competition, Google, London
  • Oliver Latham, Principal, European Competition Practice, CRA
  • Pablo Ibáñez Colomo, Associate Professor of Law at the London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Law
  • Damien Geradin, Professor of Competition Law and Economics at Tilburg University and a Visiting Professor at University College London, Partner, Euclid
  • Bill Kovacic, Professor of Law, George Washington University Law School and Kings College London
  • Ioannis Kokkoris, Professor of  Law and Economics at the Centre for Commercial Law Studies, Queen Mary University of London
  • Florence Thepot, Lecturer in Competition and European Union Law, School of Law, University of Glasgow
  • Tim Wu, Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law at Columbia Law School (tbc)

About this event

The rise of digital economy has been the major economic transformation of our time. ‘Digital platforms’ fuelled by network effects and ‘Big Data’ have been the focus of competition law enforcement activity in recent years, and will certainly continue to be attracting attention with the development of the ‘Internet of Things’ in the years to come.

Competition authorities have been increasingly active in the digital economy and the regulation, through competition law, of digital platforms. Most recently, the European Commission imposed in its Google Shopping decision (COMP. Case AT.39740) a €2.42 billion financial penalty to Alphabet (Google) for abusing its dominance as search engine by giving illegal advantage to its own comparison shopping service, and ordered it to comply with the principle of giving equal treatment to rival comparison shopping services and its own service.

It is remarkable that in a case relating to the same issue in 2013, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Board decided by an unanimous decision to close the portion of its investigation relating to allegations that Google unfairly preferences its own content on the Google search results page and selectively demotes its competitors’ content from those results, and therefore did not bring charges against Google, although in a report, released in 2015, FTC staff had recommended enforcement action on this issue.

This is not the only area where the gap between EU and the US is widening with regard to the regulation of digital platforms. In December 2017, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted three to two to dismantle the “net neutrality” rules (its own 2015 Open Internet Order), stipulating the equal treatment of all data sent and received without differential charges and service quality, which prevent internet service providers (ISPs) from charging websites more for delivering certain services or blocking others should they, for example, compete with services offered by the ISPs and cable companies. It is still unclear how this repeal will play out in practice. Major digital platforms, such as Google, Amazon, Netflix, have been critical of this move. A number of States have also brought litigation against the repeal in front of the US federal courts.

In contrast, in the EU, network neutrality is guaranteed by legislation and forms intrinsic part of the EU Digital Single Market Strategy.

The panel will reflect on the increasing EU/US gap in regulating digital platforms with regard to the enforcement of competition law, and net neutrality rules. The first part of the discussion will focus on the EU Commission’s Google Search case and will explore its implications for the interpretation of Article 102 TFEU. The second part of the discussion will take a comparative perspective and will examine the growing EU/US gap in this area, both with regard to the implementation of competition law to digital platforms and net neutrality rules


£40 standard ticket
Free of charge for Academics, Judiciary and Students


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