Commission of Experts on Competition Law 4.0 presents final report to Minister Altmaier.

Commission of Experts on Competition Law 4.0 presents final report to Minister Altmaier.

© BMWi/Susanne Eriksson

The Commission of Experts on Competition Law 4.0 set up by Peter Altmaier, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, and chaired by Martin Schallbruch, Professor Dr Heike Schweitzer and Professor Achim Wambach, Ph.D., presented its recommendations for a new competition framework for the digital economy to Minister Altmaier today.

Minister Altmaier: “We will only be able to maintain our prosperous society if we continue to have internationally competitive companies in Germany and Europe in future. We need to strike the right balance for the digital economy: on the one hand, we need to nurture the possibilities for German and European digital companies and platforms to grow, and on the other we need to prevent the abuse of market power and to keep markets open. Following a year of intensive work, the Commission ‘Competition Law 4.0’ has presented specific proposals for the future framework for competition for the digital industry in Europe. I am most grateful to the experts of the Commission ‘Competition Law 4.0’ for all the work they have done.”

Martin Schallbruch: “Boosting the autonomy of the consumer is an important tool which can safeguard competition. The easier it is for consumers to port their data from one provider to another or to grant new providers access to data, the easier it will be for rival companies to attack data-based positions of power.”

Heike Schweitzer: “The digital economy breaks up established value chains and leads to a restructuring of markets. If companies are to take advantage of the resulting opportunities for innovation across different markets, they need to be able to experiment with new forms of data pooling and data exchange. However, they are currently lacking legal certainty. We therefore recommend the introduction of a voluntary notification procedure for novel forms of cooperation at European level. This would also give the European Commission greater insights into new market developments and forms of cooperation.”

Achim Wambach: “We need rules for dominant platforms. Such platforms should be banned from giving themselves preferential treatment. Also, these platforms should be obliged to deliver portability of user and usage data in real time and in an interoperable data format.”

Online platforms, global tech companies and data-based business models are changing our economy and the life of every individual ever more quickly. In September 2018, Minister Altmaier therefore tasked an independent body of experts, the Commission ‘Competition Law 4.0’, with presenting proposals for reform, particularly of European competition law.

The Commission ‘Competition Law 4.0’ believes that:

  • the practical and actual power of consumers to dispose of their own data must be improved,
  • clear rules of conduct for dominant platforms must be introduced,
  • legal certainty for cooperation in the digital sector must be enhanced,
  • and the institutional linkage between competition law and other digital regulation must be strengthened.

With a view to attaining these goals, the Commission has drawn up 22 specific recommendations relating to platforms, data access and digital ecosystems.

The Federal Government will study the recommendations in detail and work towards a further development of competition law at European level. The Commission’s work has also fed into the ongoing work by the Economic Affairs Ministry to modernise Germany’s competition legislation. The Ministry will shortly be presenting a draft digital competition act.

The honorary members of the Commission ‘Competition Law 4.0’:
Chairs: Martin Schallbruch; Professor Dr Heike Schweitzer; Professor Achim Wambach, Ph.D.
Members: Professor Dr Wolfgang Kirchhoff; Dr Bernd Langeheine; Professor Dr Jens-Peter Schneider; Professor Dr Monika Schnitzer; Professor Dr Daniela Seeliger; Professor Dr Gerhard Wagner
Members without voting rights Dr Matthias Heider MdB, Hansjörg Durz MdB, Falko Mohrs MdB
You can find the summary of the final report here (PDF, 57 KB).
The full version of the report by the Commission ‘Competition Law 4.0’ can be found here (in German).
Information about the brief and the members of the Commission can be found here (in German).