Research event

Concrete contributions to detecting market dominance in digital sectors

Invitation-only virtual workshop aimed at concretely improving present competition and antitrust regulation through empirical metrics. 

The workshop will be held on-line the 1st & 2nd of June, formally from 4:30-7:30pm Germany time, 7:30-10:30am California time.

The digital economy is challenging established analytical frameworks and exacerbating existing challenges in competition and antitrust proceedings. This workshop is designed for a small number of engaged participants brought together to help establish mechanisms for documenting market dominance. We wish to identify and promote extant or readily available empirical data and research on the functioning of digital markets. We seek materials that could be relied upon as empirical evidence when arguing competition cases in decisions by the European Commission and/or at the European Court of Justice. We are particularly interested in making a timely impact in light of the EU’s recently released draft legislation: The Digital Services Act, the Digital Markets Act, and the forthcoming AI legislation (expected draft release 14 April 2021), all of which are likely to be finalised in the course of 2022 (likely during the French presidency the first half of that year.)

Keynote speakers

  • Stéphanie Yon-Courtin, MEP rapporteur on competition
  • Thomas Philippon, NYU Stern School
  • Cory Doctorow, journalist
  • Agustin Reyna, Bureau Européen des Unions de Consommateurs (BEUC)
  • Diana Moss, American Antitrust Institute


This workshop is part of an ambitious and innovative programme on reshaping regulation for the digital age, based on ongoing academic research as well as graduate coursework here at the Hertie School. Our particular focus is European competition law enforcement, but we anticipate the theoretical framework having broader application. As part of this effort, we are deliberately seeking varied views from diverse invitees. The primary anticipated outcome of the workshop is better understanding for all participants of the complexities involved, and insights into how best to address them. In addition, we are seeking wherever possible to produce and facilitate academic publications (or any other mechanism) that can be of use in ongoing legal actions and administrative investigations concerning mergers and monopolies.

We wish to explore and where possible answer questions including the following:

  1. How do we establish consumer harm in markets where claims are made that the product is free to consumers?
  2. What are the best ways to test the veracity of increasingly common narratives used to discourage regulation such as (i) big companies are more efficient and (ii) targeted ads benefit consumers?
  3. What might be ways to complement or replace metrics that had concrete meaning in a traditional business environment (such as “marginal costs” that have been central to competition economics) by additional metrics aligned with the real objectives of a business including KPI that is operating in the digital age?
  4. Given that market capitalisation allows large companies to acquire markets and competitors, how do we ensure that this attribute / vector of market power is not ignored by regulators?
  5. How do we integrate in the consumer welfare assessment framework the impact of very large platforms on suppliers, wages, and the attention economy?
  6. How should competition rules be deployed to ensure small and medium sized businesses survive, and thrive, in a business environment currently dominated by companies with extremely high market capitalisations?
  7. To what extent can competition regulation be part of efforts at maintaining and securing democratic control of economies and national security?

We anticipate around 30-40 attendees including the keynotes and a number of postgraduate students. We ask where possible for invited participants or their deputies to attend both three-hour sessions over the two days.