Competition, coin mining and plastic memories: why the EU should watch the Web Summit carefully

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by Tiago Cabral, member of CEDU

After the overall success of the 2016 edition – with a few exceptions like the failing Wi-Fi[i]– Lisbon hosted for the second time “the largest tech conference in the world”. We are obviously referring to this year’s edition of Web Summit which brought about 60.000 attendees from more than 170 countries to the Portuguese capital. This event is obviously significant to the Portuguese economy with an investment of about 1.3 Million Euros originating an expected return of about 300 Million. But there is more to Web Summit than the number of attendees or its effect on the Portuguese economy (even if both are relevant), it offers a look into the future and the future brings a plethora of complicated legal and political challenges. Some of these challenges demand a supranational response and the EU should watch very carefully the trends coming out of Lisbon. In the following paragraphs, we shall highlight a few topics to illustrate.

1. “The Digital Single Market has become a new political and constitutional calling for the EU” and it cannot work in the absence of healthy competition. The European Commissioner for Competition’s “clearing the path for innovation” speech[ii] (7th November) – even if its content or delivery certainly did not impress us – made clear how seriously the Commission is taking this issue. American Tech Giants dominate the EU’s market and without proper competition enforcement, European companies may fall prey to anti-competitive behaviour before they have the chance to get a foothold. The speech also made a few interesting points about the growing importance of big data in competition and about trust in competition. However, it had a rather uncomfortable “Google paranoia” emanating from it. The 2.42€ billion fine against Google for breaching EU antitrust rules was historic – whether or not we agree with it –, but so were, for example, Microsoft v. Commission (2007) and the 561€ million fine against Microsoft (2013) for non-compliance with browser choice commitments. Yet, by name the Commissioner only referred to Google. There was a reference to the issue of special tax treatment, which immediately brings the controversies with Apple and Amazon[iii] to mind, but the companies were not named. Since there was no time to properly explain the details of the referred antitrust proceeding – or of the other two ongoing antitrust proceedings against Google, regarding AdSense and Android – the speech did nothing to further inform the audience on this issue and only left the feeling that there is a fixation on Google in the Commission. Interestingly, the 6th November intervention by the Commissioner where she was interviewed by Kara Swisher suffers no such issues. The interviewer asked the right questions, what companies are breaking the rules, what is the Commission’s reaction and what are the consequences. There was no singling out of a company with references to Google, Amazon, Apple and Facebook, no attempts to explain the complicated reasoning behind the proceedings in a few short minutes, the comparisons to the US also added value to the interview.

Continue reading “Competition, coin mining and plastic memories: why the EU should watch the Web Summit carefully”

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Comment on “La nueva relación entre el Estado y la sociedad”, by José Esteve Pardo

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by Agustín Ruiz Robledo, Professor at Universidad de Granada

Review on the book “La nueva relación entre el Estado y la sociedad”, by José Esteve Pardo, Ed. Martial Pons, Madrid, 2013.

The economic crisis has been studied almost from the moment it broke in front of European’s faces in 2008, a time in which many of us thought that the crisis was a purely American matter. Without intending to be very precise, we could say that this broad collective reflection has produced a specialization among economists, who analyse the causes, and lawyers, who focus on the consequences that the crisis is having on our system. However, José Esteve Pardo, Professor of Administrative Law at the University of Barcelona, has broken this pattern to try an approach to the background of the crisis, a crisis that he considers to be of all European states and not just one in particular. In his thesis, as he advances in the title, he considers that the balance between society and State which was gained in the Occidental world after World War II has been broken. This telluric movement, or “fault” as the author calls it, derives in economic problems, terrible unemployment figures, rampant corruption, etc.

Continue reading “Comment on “La nueva relación entre el Estado y la sociedad”, by José Esteve Pardo”

Best European Fiction 2015

by Alexandra Severino, Managing Editor_
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It is worth reading the very interesting review of the Best European Fiction 2015, edited by West Camel, written on The Guardian by Daniel Hahn.

There are many voices arguing that only art and culture can put the European Union integration process back on its feet and while it is my belief that it is not exactly so, I still find culture and art (literature in this case) to be excellent fuel for getting to know better our European counterparts better and to bond more with the cultures of our Union.

Since the editorial intentions of this blog were to approach and analyse subjects both within and beyond the scope of EU law, I found it worthwile to share the very interesting thoughts of Daniel Hahn on the best European literary fiction.

You may find the review here.