Policy Study

15/01/2021

How should the EU respond to the power and control that large online platforms exercise over crucial digital services, markets, and the public sphere? This is one of the key questions confronting policy-makers at the moment. The Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS), together with the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, the Fondation Jean-Jaurès, the Fundación Pablo Iglesias, and the Fondazione Pietro Nenni, explore exactly that question in the policy paper “Governing online gatekeepers – Taking power seriously”. This paper is especially relevant in the context of the European Commission’s recent proposals for the Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Act.

In the absence of public investment and legislation, the internet has evolved into an online ecosystem of powerful and private gatekeepers. The Covid-19 crisis once again underlined that large platforms function as essential social and economic infrastructure. Online retailers find it difficult to avoid Amazon, citizens find it difficult to avoid Facebook’s social media ecosystem, and everyone relies on Google to find and be found online. However, these gatekeepers regulate social activity via the technical design of their services, but in ways that are increasingly at odds with the public interest, societal well-being, and citizens’ rights.

The policy paper explores the EU’s existing policy approach to reign in large online platforms’ power and align their functioning with the public interest, and finds it has been ineffective (competition policy), overly accommodating and complex (the raft of self-regulatory initiatives on illegal content), and simply not properly enforced (notably the General Data Protection Regulation). The paper argues for public investment in digital infrastructure, and simple – but strictly enforced – public rules targeted at the biggest online gatekeepers.

Read the report

Network
Fondation Jean-Jaurès
Fondazione Pietro Nenni
Fundación Pablo Iglesias
Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung
Find all related publications
Publications
12/02/2024

The Social Pillar and the future of the EU Social Agenda

24/01/2024

Progressive Yearbook 2024

Looking back to look ahead
23/01/2024

Algorithms by and for the workers

Digital Programme: Algorithms at the workplace
18/01/2024

Employment terms of platform workers

Digital Programme: Algorithms at the workplace
Find all related Progressive Post
Progressive Post
08/02/2024

A just transition in crisis mode

06/02/2024

Food prices are high. Why are farmers angry?

01/02/2024

Progressive industrial policy: an antidote for troubled times

Find all related events
Events
Upcoming
15/03/2024
Cieszyn, Poland

Health for all

From a slogan to a reality for Europe
Past
16/02/2024
Sofia, Bulgaria

The cost of personal transition

Forum for Progressive left solutions
12/02/2024
Austrian Permanent Representation, Brussels

The European Pillar of Social Rights

Turning principles into practice
Find all related news
News
24/01/2024

Spanish Minister Teresa Ribera awarded FEPS ‘Progressive Person of the Year’

18/01/2024

FEPS President at Euronews talk-show ‘Brussels, my love?’

29/11/2023

Economic Democracy

FEPS launches an initiative on Economic Democracy
09/10/2023

Tax the rich

A European Citizens' Initiative
Find all related in the media
In the media

»Der er tale om en markant udvikling«: Det vrimler med Wolt-bude

by Politiken 19/01/2024
'"This is a significant development": Wolt workers are everywhere' Politiken's article about the Digital Programme's first policy study: 'Employment terms of platform workers'

FEPS President at Euronews talk-show ‘Brussels, my love?’

by Euronews 15/01/2024
Panellists discussed topics including EU fiscal rules reform, German farmer's protests, and the decision of Charles Michel to quit his job early to run for MEP.

Socialistas europeos reclaman que la Europa social sea la prioridad de la futura Comisión

by EuroEFE 09/11/2023
'European socialists demand that social Europe be the priority for the future Commission' article about the 'Champions of progress: Progressives go the extra mile for Social Europe!' side event organized by FEPS and PES

“Trade doesn’t work in isolation from good domestic policies” Interview to Arancha González

by Borderlex 19/09/2023
Interview to Arancha González, former Spanish foreign minister, who released together with FEPS the new book entitled 'The Trade Handbook: Making Trade Work for Prosperity, People and Planet'