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Competition in the online world: European and global perspectives


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Speaker(s): Joaquín Almunia
Chair: Professor Damian Chalmers

Recorded on 11 November 2013 in Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building.

The online world is of crucial importance to consumers and businesses. Its role in providing innovation and connectivity means that it can boost productivity and competitiveness across many sectors of the economy. The proper functioning of the internet therefore needs to be safeguarded by making sure that gatekeepers (such as search engines, operating systems, patent holders and network operators) do not abuse their position by preventing competitors from bringing innovative new products to the market. At the same time, there should be sufficient incentives for young companies to gain market share and get returns on their investment, which are often uncertain or short-lived due to the strong dynamics in the online environment. A burning question is why we observe so few European companies among the giants of the internet? Is it due to a different approach to antitrust enforcement? Does national fragmentation make it difficult to reach scale in Europe? Is it a lack of good ideas? Or the limited availability of funding?

Joaquín Almunia is Vice-President of the European Commission and European Commissioner for Competition (2010-2014). He graduated in Law and Economics at the University of Deusto (Bilbao) and completed postgraduate studies at L’École Practique des Hautes Études de Paris. Having worked as an economist at the Council Bureau of the Spanish Chambers of Commerce in Brussels, in 1976 he went on to become the Chief economist of the Spanish trade union, UGT. From 1979 to 2004 he served as a Member of the Spanish Parliament, in 1982 becoming Minister of Employment and Social Security, and in 1986, Minister of Public Administration. Joaquín Almunia served as leader of the Parliamentary Party from 1994 to 1997, preceding his appointment as leader of the Spanish Socialist Party from 1997 to 2000. In 2000 he stood as Socialist candidate for Prime Minister. A Member of the European Commission since April 2004 (previously as Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs from 2004 to 2010), he is the author of several books and numerous academic articles and press columns.

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