ZWeR 2016, 1

RWS Verlag Kommunikationsforum GmbH, Köln RWS Verlag Kommunikationsforum GmbH, Köln 2199-1723 Zeitschrift für Wettbewerbsrecht ZWeR 2016 AufsätzeChristoph Stadler*

“Me first!” or Why The Bundeskartellamt Approach in the Hotel Platform Cases Is an Unfortunate Precedent

This paper offers a critique of the December 2013 prohibition order of the Bundeskartellamt in the HRS hotel platform case. It discusses the FCO’s market investigation, its definition of the relevant market, its theory of harm as well as its assessment of efficiencies. The paper argues that, from a policy point of view, the FCO’s approach of issuing prohibition orders against HRS and in the absence of adequate co-ordination with other competition authorities in the EU, is not a model to be followed in the ECN.


  • I. Introduction
  • II. Facts and Procedure of the HRS Case
  • III. How do Hotel Booking Platforms Work?
  • IV. Why the FCO Analysis Should not Serve as a Precedent
    • 1. Deficiencies of the market investigation
    • 2. Definition of relevant product market
    • 3. Theory of harm
      • 3.1 Restriction of competition between online booking platforms
      • 3.2 Restriction of competition between hotels
    • 4. Individual exemption under Article 101(3) TFEU: efficiency gains
    • 5. The policy perspective
      • 5.1 The FCO targets each market participant separately
      • 5.2 “Me first!”
      • 5.3 “You’re on your own”
      • 5.4 Lessons to be learned
Dr. iur., Hengeler Mueller. The author is advising HRS on antitrust issues in Europe. He wishes to thank Stefanie Budde and Rhiannon Pugh for their contributions to this paper. An earlier version of this paper was submitted at the occasion of the IBA 19th Annual Competition Conference in Florence, September 2015

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