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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Oldenbourg November 20, 2023

Regulating Big Tech: From Competition Policy to Sector Regulation?

  • Oliver Budzinski EMAIL logo and Juliane Mendelsohn
From the journal ORDO


The European Commission has proposed a new regulatory tool to govern of digital markets. The Digital Markets Act (DMA) intents to limit the market behavior of so-called gatekeepers to ensure contestable and fair digital markets. We review the provisions of the DMA both from a legal and from an economic perspective. Notwithstanding a number of benefits, we identify several issues with the current proposal. When looking at the core provisions of the proposal from an economic perspective, a number of of contention arise: many of the provisions seem to be quite narrow in scope and it seems difficult to extrapolate more general rules from them; the economic harm of some of the provisions is both uncertain and in principle debatable; the alleged (self-executing; non self-executing) distinction between different types of obligations cannot be verified; and, in addition, Art. 5–7 DMA seem to contain three distinct regulatory instruments; last but not least, while the DMA seeks to control existing gatekeepers, the “tipping” of markets and the rise of further gatekeepers is not guaranteed by the proposed regulation, this in turn leads to a larger critical analysis of the gatekeeper as the DMA’s norm addressee. While the goals and nature of the DMA have gained in clarity throughout the legislative process, its scope remains somewhat obtuse. On the one hand it seems set on regulating gatekeepers as they exist today, on the other, it also aims to bring about systemic change in the digital single market. How it expects to achieve the latter is not entirely clear. On closer examination, the DMA also contains a complex enforcement regime that not only depends on the compliance of gatekeepers but may also forestall the envisioned speed and efficacy of the instrumment. In this light and by critically looking at the nature of ex ante and ex post measures in broader competition policy, we conclude that a reform of the competition policy regime would better suit the overalls aims of reining in big tech in future.

JEL-Codes: K21; K23; K24; L40; L50; L81; L86


We are thankful to Sarah Noriya Kraus for extremely helpful editorial assistance.


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Published Online: 2023-11-20
Published in Print: 2023-11-01

© 2023 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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