The Danish, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish embassies to the EU circulated a warning statement on Monday (22 November) ahead of the Competitiveness Council that is set to adopt the EU’s Digital Markets Act, a key piece of digital legislation, on 25 November.
The four countries addressed their EU peers stressing the “need for improvements” in the DMA, a landmark EU proposal to regulate online platforms that are so large they play a ‘gatekeeper’ role in the online economy.
The foursome raised concerns that the regulation might be “watered down” in the upcoming interinstitutional negotiations, which are set to start once both the EU Council and the European Parliament agree on their respective positions on the file.
“Recent cases have highlighted the persistence of a strong imbalance in the contractual relations between gatekeepers and business users also in relation to access to search engines and social network services, leading to unbalanced, unfair and potentially unjust conditions,” reads the joint statement, seen by EURACTIV.
In particular, the four EU countries regret that obligations to provide fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory conditions of access for business users are “unambitiously limited” to app stores. By contrast, they want to see the scope of these provisions extended to social networks and search engines.
These measures are expected to mitigate the negative impact market concentration has had on business users, namely individuals or organisations that use these platforms for their economic activities, while also strengthening consumer choice and access to quality content.
The proposal was put forth by Italy and Spain already during the ambassador meeting that adopted the DMA on 10 November, an EU diplomatic source told EURACTIV.
Denmark and Portugal have subsequently joined this position, which is being restated just a few days ahead of the ministerial meeting expected to green-light the ‘general approach’ to the DMA, providing the mandate for negotiations between the member states, the Parliament, and the Commission
“We are confident that such a request will be taken in due and serious account in the course of future negotiations,” the statement concludes.
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]