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Georgios Petropoulos

Georgios Petropoulos

Georgios Petropoulos joined Bruegel as a visiting fellow in November 2015, and he has been a resident fellow since April 2016. He is a Greek citizen and his research is specialized in industrial organization, competition policy, corporate finance and economic growth.

Articles by Georgios Petropoulos

Making antitrust work for, not against, gig workers and the self-employed

October 11, 2021

Policymakers should act to deal with labour-market concentration trends that potentially harm workers, especially gig workers and the self-employed.
By:
Georgios Petropoulos
Date: October 11, 2021
Topic: Digital economy and innovation

In late September, the Chair of United States Federal Trade Commission, Lina Khan, urged Congress to consider passing legislation to ensure gig workers who organise do not fall foul of antitrust laws. The European Union has already taken some steps in this direction. In a 2019 statement, European Commission Vice President Margrethe Vestager said that “we need to make sure that there is nothing in the competition rules to stop those platform workers from forming a union, to negotiate proper wages as you would do in any other business”. This was

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Opening up digital platforms and reducing anticompetitive risks

September 22, 2021

The current convergence in measures to open up digital platforms leaves a door open to some form of international coordination.
By:
Georgios Petropoulos
Date: September 22, 2021
Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy

Regulation of online platforms in China, the European Union and the United States is, for first time, moving in the same direction: regulators are pushing platforms to open up their infrastructure to increase consumer choice and to give more options to their business users.
Most recently, following Chinese government intervention, China’s two largest tech platforms, Tencent and Alibaba, agreed to open up their digital infrastructures to accommodate competitors’ services. For nearly a decade, Tencent and Alibaba had been blocking all interoperability between their

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The great infodemic: time to consider a fake news tax

August 26, 2021

A content-based tax on the revenue from digital advertising is needed to prevent the monetisation of fake news by both creators and platforms.
By:
Georgios Petropoulos
Date: August 26, 2021
Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy

In a speech delivered at the Munich Security Conference on 15 February 2020, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) noted that “fake news spreads faster and more easily than this virus, and is just as dangerous”. In fact, we are in a middle of what the WHO calls an infodemic: “too much information including false or misleading information in digital and physical environments during a disease outbreak”.
The spread of misinformation and disinformation, especially online and on social media, has contributed to COVID-19 vaccine

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Artificial intelligence in the fight against COVID-19

March 23, 2020

Artificial intelligence can help fight the coronavirus through applications including population screening, notifications of when to seek medical help and tracking how infection spreads. The COVID-19 outbreak has triggered intense work on such applications, but it will take time before results become visible.
By:
Georgios Petropoulos
Date: March 23, 2020
Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy

In the face of the coronavirus, digital technologies are vital for both social health and economic performance. A digital response to the COVID-19 pandemic can take multiple forms and bring significant value. One important area in which there have been rapid developments in the last few weeks is new applications of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) for screening of the

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AI and the Productivity Paradox

December 24, 2019

In this blog post, I review the main explanations for this paradox and I briefly discuss relevant policy options in order to increase the contribution of AI on productivity By: Georgios Petropoulos Date: December 24, 2019 Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy Our economy is undergoing tremendous digitalisation through numerous new information technology systems that are based on artificial intelligence and machine learning. While these new technologies bring big efficiency gains in the production process, they do not seem to contribute to productivity, according to the statistics.AI systems, based on a neural network structure (see, Petropoulos, 2017) have advanced and made impressive accuracy gains in perception, analysis and classification tasks. An indicative example is the

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Work Protection in the Digital Age: Towards a new social contract

November 4, 2019

Over the past few years, new business models have emerged, empowered by digital technologies. These have disrupted a range of activities, from food delivery and transportation to accommodation and venture capital. Digital companies and their new business models collectively make up the so-called platform or collaborative economy. New forms of work have been created posing the question: How can the social contract catch up? By: Georgios Petropoulos Date: November 4, 2019 Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy By using information technologies, intermediaries can capture the underlying preferences and characteristics of potential providers and users and can match the supply of and demand forassets in a more efficient way. Intermediaries typically charge fees in the form of a

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How should the relationship between competition policy and industrial policy evolve in the European Union?

July 15, 2019

Competition policy aims to ensure that market practices and strategies do not reduce consumer welfare. Industrial policy, meanwhile, aims at securing framework conditions that are favourable to industrial competitiveness, and deals with (sector-specific) production rules as well as the direction of public funds and tax measures. But, how should competition policy and industrial policy interact? Is industrial policy contradicting the aims of competition policy by promoting specific industrial interests?
By:
Georgios Petropoulos
Date: July 15, 2019
Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy

Bruno Le Maire, the French minister of the economy and finance, in his recent talk at Bruegel, referred to the necessity to make technological

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The impact of artificial intelligence on employment

July 31, 2018

Technological development, and in particular digitalisation, has major implications for labour markets. Assessing its impact will be crucial for developing policies that promote efficient labour markets for the benefit of workers, employers and societies as a whole.
By:
Georgios Petropoulos
Date: July 31, 2018
Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy

This contribution is a chapter of the book Work in the Digital Age, from the Policy Network, published by Rowman & Littlefield International Ltd. The full book is accessible here.

Looking at the labour displacement and productivity effects of AI on employment, the author argues that middle-level jobs that require routine manual and cognitive skilled are the ones that are

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How e-commerce reshapes markets and firms’ strategies

May 7, 2018

The development of e-commerce has affected both demand and supply fundamentals of markets, changing the way competition works. In the effort to develop a frictionless and welfare maximizing digital single market across the EU, it is necessary to carefully review the disruptive forces on e-commerce on markets and firms’ strategies.
By:
Georgios Petropoulos
Date: May 7, 2018
Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy

Online purchases are growing rapidly within the European Union, generating benefits for the broader European society. Electronic commerce (e-commerce) is growing rapidly in the EU at an average annual growth rate of 22%, surpassing €200 billion in 2014 and reaching a share of 7% of total retail sales (European

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Collaborative Economy: Market Design and Basic Regulatory Principles

April 16, 2018

Despite the efficiencies and benefits associated with the collaborative economy, there are concerns about how it can be properly regulated. The difference in regulatory regimes for online and offline services can lead in some cases to situations of unfair market competition.
By:
Georgios Petropoulos
Date: April 16, 2018
Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy

Recent technological developments in information technologies have enabled the emergence and rapid growth of the collaborative economy, through which providers of durable goods and services can trade online with individuals.
While there are a great variety of business models that fall into this new market economy, a key common characteristic of the collaborative economy

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State aid and tax rulings: Clarifying the European Commission’s approach

April 12, 2018

State aid is considered illegal under EU law. However, more clarity over the main characteristics of tax measures that can constitute state aid is needed when we look at the way the European Commission is dealing with specific cases.
By:
Georgios Petropoulos
Date: April 12, 2018
Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy

State aid is defined as an advantage in any form whatsoever conferred on a selective basis to undertakings by national public authorities. Therefore, subsidies granted to individuals or general measures open to all enterprises do not constitute state aid. Tax reliefs can be considered as state aid only when they give the recipient an advantage on a selective basis (for example, to specific companies or industry

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The growing presence of robots in EU industries

December 20, 2017

While it is always tempting to try to predict future patterns in the automation of European industries, it is also insightful to assess key dimensions of their robotisation so far, starting from the pre-AI era. This article presents evidence on the use of industrial robots by European industries from 1993 and onwards.
By:
Georgios Petropoulos
Date: December 20, 2017
Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance

The author is grateful to Nicolas Moës for its research assistance.

When it comes to artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, the mass arrival of intelligent and efficient robots and their impact on labour (see Petropoulos, 2017) and production has been frequently discussed and debated. While it is always tempting to

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Do we understand the impact of artificial intelligence on employment?

April 27, 2017

Artificial intelligence is already transforming the world of work, but the future is hard to predict. Some see most jobs at risk of automatisation, while others argue robots will only take on a narrow range of tasks in the coming decades. Nevertheless, we need a broad debate to prepare the appropriate economic policy response to the new industrial revolution.

In my previous blog on artificial intelligence (AI), I dealt with the general characteristics of AI and machine learning. Thanks to complex virtual learning techniques, machines are now able to perform a wide range of physical and cognitive tasks. And the efficiency and accuracy of their work is expected to increase as AI systems advance through machine learning, big data and increased computational power.
The benefits are clear, but there are also concerns for the future of human work and employment. If indeed machines continue to improve their performance beyond human levels, a natural question to ask is whether machines will put humans’ jobs at risk and reduce employment. Such a concern is not new but in fact dates back to the 1930s, when John Maynard Keynes postulated his “technological unemployment” theory.

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Machines that learn to do, and do to learn: What is artificial intelligence?

April 6, 2017

Artificial intelligence is much talked about, but what exactly is it? Georgios Petropoulos explores the origins, methods and potential of machine learning.

Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to intelligence exhibited by machines. It lies at the intersection of big data, machine learning and computer programming. Computer programming contributes the necessary design and operational framework. It can make machines capable of carrying out a complex series of computations automatically. These computations can be linked to specific actions in the case robots (which are in principle programmable through computers). Machine learning enables computer programs to acquire knowledge and skills, and even improve their own performance. Big Data provides the raw material for machine learning, and offers examples on computer programs can “practice” in order to learn, exercise, and ultimately perform their assigned tasks more efficiently.
The idea of intelligent machines arose in the early 20th century. From the beginning, the idea of “human-like” intelligence was key.

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An economic review of the collaborative economy

February 27, 2017

This Policy Contribution tackles the definition and benefits of collaborative economy, as well as the distinction between professional and non-professional services, recommendations on safety and transparency for users, and the way to approach regulatory concerns.

The collaborative economy matches people online who want to share assets and services. This Policy Contribution: i) discusses how the collaborative economy can be defined; ii) provides an overview of evidence about its potential benefits for European economies and the impact of specific platforms in the sectors of their operation; iii) illustrates the criteria that enable professional and non-professional services offered through collaborative platforms to be distinguished; iv) recommends priorities for the platforms so that they can create a safe and transparent environment for the transactions of their users; v) discusses further regulatory concerns and how they should be approached.
The collaborative economy is characterised by a great variety of business models. It spans multiple sectors each of which has its own market characteristics. A single definition is therefore beyond reach. However, a common element in the majority of business models is the use of under-utilised assets for the extraction of economic benefits.

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Search engines, big data and network effects

November 22, 2016

Search engines are intermediaries in a two-way market between users and advertisers. Their huge stocks of data about users and their preferences can help search engines offer better services to all parties. But does this make market entry difficult for new players? And can we see network effects emerging in the search engine market?

Search engines respond to queries by providing relevant and valuable information about the topics that their users are looking for. They also act as intermediaries which match consumers with providers of services or sellers of products. To monetise their work, search engines collect and process data from users and sell advertising slots to companies. By analysing the users’ data, they can improve the quality of the search engine algorithm and provide more relevant organic search results, but they can also design personalised advertising strategies for companies’ products and services. Companies are thus more successful in placing their products, and consumers receive recommendations tailored to their interests.
Advertising slots are allocated on a competitive basis to the companies that are willing to pay the highest amount to get some prominence in the platform when the user is searching for relevant terms.

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Collaborative economy

November 18, 2016

Georgios Petropoulos was invited to speak at a workshop on collaborative economy organised by the Internal Market Committee (IMCO) of the European Parliament on November 8.

Georgios Petropoulos was one of the speakers at workshop on collaborative economy organised by the Internal Market Committee (IMCO) of the European Parliament on November 8.
The focus of the workshop was the definition of, and distinction between, professional version non-professional/occasional provision of services, as well as the future of a regulatory framework for non-professional provision of services and prosumers. It included a debate about the new ways of providing services in the digital era and the need to effectively protect consumers.
Georgios Petropoulos presented some of the benefits of collaborative economy, and discussed issues related to regulation, types of services, and terms of the functioning of platforms that provide services.
Watch the video recording of the meeting.

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Geo-blocking and non audiovisual copyrighted content services

November 18, 2016

Georgios Petropoulos attended a meeting of IMCO Working Group on the Digital Single Market on November 14.

The Working Group (WG) on the Digital Single Market (DSM) of European Parliament’s Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) organised its tenth meeting on November 14.  The aim of the meeting was to assess different aspects of the Commission Proposal for a Regulation on geo-blocking.
Georgios Petropoulos presented the results of his research on geo-blocking and non audiovisual copyrighted content services.
Watch the video recording of the meeting.

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Brexit and competition policy in Europe

July 6, 2016

If the UK leaves the EU without any agreement in place, this could change the way that competition law is applied. It could also make antitrust cases more costly and competition policy instruments less effective.

The impact of Brexit on competition policy depends on what kind of agreement is secured between the EU and the UK.
One option could be a European Economic Area (EEA) agreement, which the EU has signed with Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway. The EEA agreement establishes a dynamic and homogeneous European Economic Area, based on common rules and equal conditions of competition. It would mean that that two separate legal systems would be applied in parallel within the EEA.
Common laws are applicable whenever trade between EU member states is affected. In merger cases the European Commission has exclusive jurisdiction in the EEA to deal with all cases that have a community dimension.
Leaving the EU and joining EEA would not have a major impact on how competition policy is applied in the UK and the EU. However, the UK would lose its ability to directly influence future developments of EU competition law.
A second option would be a series of bilateral trade agreements that allow partial access to the single market under conditions that do not require the full adoption of EU competition law, as in Switzerland.

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Uber and the economic impact of sharing economy platforms

February 22, 2016

Consumers enjoy the cheaper taxi services provided by Uber, but the company has proven divisive among taxi drivers. Regulators should allow Uber to operate, but under stricter regulations, to ensure that consumers reap the benefits, and drivers operate on a level playing field.
The ‘sharing economy’ matches people who want to share assets online. Rather than buying a power drill that I only need for 15 minutes, for example, I can just rent one from someone else who’s not using theirs. Such efficiency gains may come at cost for the traditional economy. Manufacturers of power drills might see profits shrink due to the drop in demand and may even be driven out of the market.
However the costs and benefits associated with sharing economy platforms depend on the business models in place.
Uber is one of the fastest growing startups worldwide, but its rise has led to massive demonstrations by taxi drivers. Courts have banned or restricted Uber’s services for engaging in unfair competition with regular taxis. While other ridesharing online platforms like Lyft and Sidecar use similar business models, Uber is at the centre of the debate due to its size and rapid growth worldwide.

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