Differentiated Treatment in Platform-to-Business Relations: EU Competition Law and Economic Dependence
Yearbook of European Law, vol. 38 no. 1, p. 448-499, 2019
52 Pages Posted: 4 Jun 2020
Date Written: November 12, 2019
Differentiated treatment is a key focus in current competition investigations of the European Commission and national competition authorities, ranging from more prominent placement of one’s own services in a ranking to preferential access to data and the favoring of businesses that pay higher levels of commission. Based on their exclusionary and/or exploitative character, the paper distinguishes three types of differentiated treatment on online platforms in order to provide an analytical framework for assessing the extent to which such practices are abusive under Article 102 TFEU, namely: pure self-preferencing, pure secondary line differentiation and hybrid differentiation. The paper points out that the main area where EU competition law currently does not offer effective protection is in the most far-reaching situation where a business is blocked from a platform without legitimate justification. To address harm in such cases, the paper suggests giving a stronger role to economic dependence both within and outside EU competition law and explores possible measures building upon the Platform-to-Business (P2B) Regulation as well as the notion of fairness of platform-to-business relations.
Keywords: Competition; Economic Dependence; Online Platforms; Discrimination; Fairness
JEL Classification: K20; K21; K30; L43; O38
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation