On the topic of platforms in multi-sided markets, all practitioners are still to a large extent working in the dark: regulators have not yet defined a specific theory of harm to pursue some of these platforms and many practitioners are unsure as to which legal principles apply. The discussions in this conference will revolve around three main topics. Firstly, the panellists will discuss perspectives on the antitrust rules; the key question being whether the existing ex post rules are well-adapted to the issues which may arise in multi-sided markets or whether some sort of ex ante regulation is necessary in this area.
Secondly, the particularities of merger control in the context of multi-sided markets, and the assessment of mergers between platforms, will be discussed. Finally, recent cases such as Facebook/Whatsapp in Germany have shown that the antitrust rules are being used to fill the gap to complement sector-specific regulation, despite a developing set of rules for privacy comprising the new GDPR. There is a question as to whether competition rules should act as a regulatory safety net and address situations for which they were not destined for.