Governing online gatekeepers – Taking power seriously

How should the EU respond to the power and control that large online platforms exercise […]

Policy Study


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

Find all related publications

Sustainable Digital Market Design: A data-based approach to the circular economy

Markets must be designed properly to serve the common good. This is particularly evident in […]

Just Transition & Revitalisation – A New EU Strategy for Rural Areas

How can EU actions support the revitalisation of rural areas? How can EU institutions put […]

European Industrial Policy: A crucial element of strategic autonomy

European Strategic Autonomy series - Economy & Trade

A macro-development perspective on euro area imbalances

By FEPS and Initiative for Policy Dialogue (IPD), founded by Nobel Laureate Joseph E. Stiglitz.
Find all related events
07 - 09/07/2022
Reggio Emilia (Italy)

ProgressivesSpeakUp: School of young local politicians

School for young local leaders, 7 – 9 July, Reggio Emilia (IT) This year’s School of […]
FEPS Office (Brussels)

FEPS DataTalks II – Sustainability and data-sharing among businesses

In cooperation with MEP Miapetra Kumpula-Natri
Barcelona (Spain)

The (im) possibility of an island? ethical AI in a geopolitical world

The conference kicked off with a keynote by Pieter Verdegem, who shared a critical perspective on AI, based on the […]
Find all related news

FEPS launches ‘Recovery Watch’, a new research project

The National Recovery and Resilience Plans represent the new framework in which member states will identify their […]

Call to participants: Training Days for Social Business

Switzerland, September 3rd 2022

Prof. Stiglitz: NextGenEU was a step forward, but the EU needs more flexibility

The Nobel Laureate in Economics Prof. Joseph E. Stiglitz speak out about EU’s economic governance and fiscal rules […]

FEPS supports the Statement of the Progressive Alliance: Global solidarity is the key to overcoming COVID-19

FEPS is pleased to join the global progressive family and supports the Statement of the […]
Find all related in the media
In the media

Da Prodi a Rodrigues, domani al via la ’Terza conferenza sul futuro dell’Europa’

by La Nazione 25/05/2022

Belgians resigned but not yet panicking as prices continue to rise


COVID-19 could be incentive to give EU more health powers – Euractiv

by Euractiv 03/03/2022

2022: Pathway to reconstruction – EURACTIV