EU ANTITRUST: HOT TOPICS & NEXT STEPS
4. A certain sub-topic in the show of contributions is the lingering pandemic of COVID-19, whose impact on competition protection was directly addressed in two contributions. On the one hand, it is true that the competition rules did not need to be revised even at the time of the pandemic‘s greatest impact, only applied more sensitively and perhaps more generously; on the other hand, COVID-19 was latently present in several contributions as an accelerator of certain trends. The pandemic showed how dependent we are on the internet and its gatekeepers, so the texts on protecting competition in a digitized society were in reality also discussions on how to properly tame the giants whose influence on our lives we became fully aware of during COVID-19. This order or division of the topics of the current competition protection is inevitably a bit haphazard and rough. Many of the papers in this collection would qualify for more than one group because their authors felt the need to comment on the connections between hot topics. Some of the papers, on the other hand, are more national and situational – they follow one competitive issue in one country or region and defy easy classification into one of the more broadly defined thematic groups. Nevertheless, as the conference organizer and editor of the proceedings, I believe that the snapshot of contemporary antitrust that the conference and these proceedings have managed to capture is correct in its broad outlines. Contemporary competition law is undoubtedly intertwined with the big issues of the time (which are digitalization, globalization, sustainability) on the one hand, and on the other, it is constantly addressing the problems inherent in every living branch of law (effective application, penetration of fundamental rights, addressing new legal issues, comparing and sharing best solutions). I hope that readers of the proceedings will agree that it is thus a sufficiently faithful snapshot of contemporary antitrust, even if it certainly does not fit everything into its cut-out. For practical reasons, it was decided to keep the structure of the proceedings in line with the conference programme. Thus, it is not the division outlined above, which would be dominated by one large chapter accompanied by a peloton of smaller chapters. Just as the conference programme had to be balanced so that the individual panels remained comparable in time and space, so this volume has equally large chapters that bring together papers addressing a common (or at least similar) set of issues. This is an alternative thematic division to the one I have tried to suggest in this introduction, driven by the desire to ‚take the temperature of EU-antitrust‘ by looking at the thematic diversity of the collected conference papers. Within the individual blocks, the papers were arranged in alphabetical order according to the authors‘ names.
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