Germany pushes ahead with details of digital competition reforms

The German Federal Cartel Office @Kartellamt has set up a working group to fully define companies with “paramount significance for cross-market competition”, as the new section 19a of Germany’s competition law will cover, president Andreas Mundt told a French competition authority @Adlc_ webinar on 4 November.

This will allow obligations/prohibitions to be imposed on markets where “paramount” companies are *not yet dominant*. Like the UK Furman review’s recommended code of conduct approach, but more case-driven. There will also be an update of Germany’s rules on “relative” dominance, where any sized companies can depend on digital gatekeepers, and on intermediaries in multi-sided markets, explicitly including data-driven dependences.

It’s very important, according to Mundt, that the reforms cover “cross-market” platforms, which compete on several markets, all linked via their ecosystem, where a user is locked in << IB: so #interoperability (and #portability) is vital!

Also important: there can be *simultaneous* firms of paramount significance on one market. A holistic view must be taken. Art 19a factors are not exhaustive and don’t need to be present in a cumulative way. There will be a case by case assessment, based on a company as a whole

Mundt stated fines are less important than remedies that really shape the market in future. A good example is his office’s proposed Facebook remedy, focusing on what leads to data-driven dominance — internal “data divestiture”, a lightweight version of @johnnyryan’s full enforcement of GDPR purpose specification.

President of @adlc_ Isabelle de Silva adds that France is considering some of these reforms, but may wait until the EU has finished with the #DigitalMarketsAct first.

Mundt agrees with @IsabelleDeSilva the change to allow large companies (not just SMEs) to demand access to platforms could be very significant << IB: and indeed I expect some of the slickest new competitors on digital services following these reforms will come from the other GAFAMs, handset manufacturers, esp. Samsung, and even the traditional telcos. They have the scale, resources, ecosystem, and brand name recognition to enter IM and social media markets fast. Come on down @nokia and @ETNOAssociation members!

Q: will @Kartellamt need to cooperate more with other agencies, such as the federal data protection authority and network regulator? A: Already very good links. The @bnetza has a sectoral role that will not apply to digital platforms.

Excellent discussion!