Based on the keyword „net neutrality“, most recently a controversial discussion emerged in Europe and in particular in Germany on the role of the state and how transmission neutrality in communication networks could be legally guaranteed. Although only a small number of cases exist where infringements of net neutrality principles in “real life” are suspected in Europe, a vivid discussion on the requirement of legal guidance is in place on the German level, mainly by the Committee of Enquiry “Internet and Digital Society” of the German Federal Parliament (Enquête-Kommission “Internet und digitale Gesellschaft” des Bundestages), the European level, mainly by the European Commission, and also on the international level, by the ITU. Neither across these levels nor within one of these levels of discussion “net neutrality” is formally defined. In consequence, it is most important whether principles of “net neutrality” have to be protected and are in the need of protection and, if so, to which extent this has to be legally enforced.

Cooperating partners are the University of Mannheim, Prof. Dr. Thomas Fetzer (overall project management), Prof. Dr. Martin Peitz and Prof. Dr. Heike Schweitzer, and the ZEW. This project shall provide a neutral basis for decision making in the national and international debate for the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi). For this reason, we analyze the structure of the current “net neutrality” debate to get an in-depth impression of the term “net neutrality” and in particular the requirement of its protection based on a legal and an economic perspective. In the focus of our analysis are the main issues “Economic and Legal Perspectives of net neutrality”, “net neutrality between telecommunications and media law” and “net neutrality in the international discussion”. The results of our analyses will be summarized in three stimulating publications and will be discussed in workshops with interested parties.

Report for the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (written in German):
"Ökonomische und juristische Grundlagen der Netzneutralität"

Selected Publications


Bertschek, Irene, Christopher S. Yoo, Fabienne Rasel and Florian Smuda (2014), Die Netzneutralitätsdebatte im internationalen Vergleich, Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Technologie, Berlin. Download