Competition in Europe: To regulate or not to regulate?

27 April 2015 Author: EIFonline

Today the Digital Revolution is transforming our lives and opening up new growth opportunities for all, in particular, creating new opportunities for business and employment.

The new digital world is already part of our lives; you just have to consider how many of our daily tasks are performed digitally. Digital technology does not recognize physical boundaries nor respect companies that have been successful in the past. Indeed, dynamic digitally-driven supply-side competition driven by low barriers to entry, minimal cost of innovation and the speed with which customers adopt new products is generating enormous consumer benefit – the ultimate goal of competition policy. However, a tectonic shift of this magnitude brings with it challenges for policy makers and regulators responsible for ensuring fair and open market-based competition in the face of these dynamic digital realities. Experience shows that there are no easy answers, as competition in the Digital Economy and across the Internet value chain is complex and rapidly evolving. At a crucial time when the European Commission is about to release its strategy for the Digital Single Market, this EIF debate was a great opportunity to open up a debate on some of the key questions that need to be addressed.

Adina-Ioana Valean, Vice President of the European Parliament and EIF Steering Committee Member, chaired the debate. In her opening remarks she stressed the fact that EU policy makers and market players need to make sure that the successful European model for telecom competition remains future proof and fit for the digital economy.


Martin Bailey, acting Head of Unit F1 "Digital Single Market" at DG CONNECT, European Commission, noted that while there should be broader rethinking around the current regulations, this should not result in a completely new set of regulation. 


Chris Sherwood, Head of Public Policy at Allegro Group, presented a European e-commerce company position.  He observed that today offline businesses in various sectors have to deal will a lot of over-regulation. Therefore a de-regulation agenda could help them to compete equally with purely digital business or service providers. 


Christoph Steck, Director Public Policy & Internet at Telefonica, focused his remarks on the openness of the internet and the internet shift: from desktop browsers to mobile/touch internet. However, in this new era of internet usage, users are divided by the platforms they are using.  He presented Telefonica’s efforts to keep the internet and applications accessible to everyone by introducing an open Mobile Operating System.


Peter Grüter, CFO of Fastweb, spoke about the importance of  internet access for a competitive Europe.


 

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