13 October 2021

On 13 October 2021, EIF organised a debate on the “Digital Markets Act – Where do we stand?” to discuss the DMA and its potential impact on the EU digital economy. The debate was hosted by MEP and EIF Steering Committee member Andrus Ansip and was moderated by EIF Director General Maria Rosa Gibellini. The discussion featured the following experts and policy-makers:

- Andreas Schwab MEP and EIF Member, Rapporteur of the DMA proposal for the IMCO Committee
- Gerard de Graaf, Director of Digital Transformation in DG CONNECT, European Commission
- Carolina Lorenzon, Board Member, Association of Commercial Televisions in Europe
- Jason Oxman, CEO, ITI (Information Technology Industry Council)

Digital Markets Act: Where do we stand?

MEP Andrus Ansip welcomed all participants and speakers to the debate. There are 10,000 different platforms in the EU; while the Platform to Business Regulation deals with the relations between those platforms and businesses, the Digital Markets Act has to deal with the relations between business users and very big platforms, the so-called gatekeeper platforms. 

The DMA, said MEP Ansip, was warmly welcomed by all political groups in the European Parliament because there is a broad understanding that the DMA is needed. Nevertheless, more than 1200 amendments were tabled and the MEPs are now facing some intense debates trying to find compromises between all these proposals and details.

MEP Andreas Schwab assured that there is a very clear commitment to make this law a tool to allow further innovation and increase competition with fairness in the direction of the SMEs, newcomers and big companies. MEP Schwab outlined where the political groups in the European Parliament are currently not agreeing: (1) how to enforce this law, (2) flexibility of the European Commission to make the regulatory process a success, (3) the rules in articles 5 and 6, with the wish to integrate further elements in particular on interoperability and targeted advertising, (4) the number of core platform services that should be covered by the list in article 2, which is still under discussion, as well as (5) the scope.

We don’t have to forget, said MEP Schwab, that the DMA is meant to fix problems that could not be fixed in the last 10-15 years with other European legislation. We have a lot of tools, not only at European but also at national level; we should focus on a law that can interact with the world and which is fair to everyone and creates further innovation and competition.

Gerard de Graaf underlined the positive impact of technology platforms on the European economy; the EU is not anti-platforms, but platforms do raise concerns in our society. What is important about the Digital Markets Act is that it is an ex-ante instrument: the legislators will define what are the unfair practices and what obligations should be imposed on the gatekeepers to make sure that markets are fair. This should be positive for businesses, SMEs who depend on gatekeepers, and consumers as well.
The EU is discussing this at international level, with a great degree of consensus in the policy-maker and academic community about the need for public policy intervention. There are still some complicated issues that need to be tackled, but Mr. De Graaf is quite confident that in the first half of next year, during the French presidency, there will be an agreement on the DMA; it is realistic to expect that the DMA will enter into force in 2023.

Carolina Lorenzon, representing Europe's media commercial and public broadcasters, welcomes the European Commission’s DMA proposal which has the potential to become a landmark ex-ante attempt to prevent potential abuses of dominant positions. In her intervention, she focused on four aspects of the DMA fundamental to tv and radio broadcasting.
(1) On scope, we need to ensure that all relevant services are covered and thereby the list of core platform services should be adapted to encompass web browsers; (2) bundling and tying proposed obligations should be widened; (3) widening the self-preferencing provisions to also cover conditions of views of the service, functionality and interfaces would ensure a technology-neutral approach. (4) While welcoming the provision on the audience measurement in Article 6.1.g, Ms. Lorenzon outlined that in order to ensure meaningful access to information for the media sector, there is the need for reliable information verified by trusted and neutral third parties.

Jason Oxman argued that preserving key procedural and substantive protections for all parties involved in regulatory discussions, ensuring both transparent and non-discriminatory treatment of technology companies globally is key for ITI. According to Mr. Oxman, it is important to consider that whatever instruments are adopted are proportionate and that they ensure contestable markets. The scope must be limited to the core platform services that are acting as gateways: we need to focus on the type of service, not necessarily on the type or the size of a company.

As regards to obligations, it is really important to focus on the application to the specific service concerned and the regulatory dialogue in this sense is key: it would provide the European Commission and all businesses concerned the opportunity to discuss how the best substantive obligations can be applied in the context of a certain service. As per DMA's enforcement, continued Mr. Oxman, it is key that whatever approach is chosen does not lead to fragmentation. ITI believes that the final decision should always rest with the European Commission to guarantee consistency across the European single market.

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