Digital Markets Act: Full Speed Ahead?

Digital Markets Act: Full Speed Ahead?

As the debate around the Digital Markets Act (DMA) reaches new highs, the rapporteur for the Act, Dr. Andreas Schwab, believes one thing is clear: “we have to get on with it.” Schwab made this point during the webinar “The Digital Markets Act: Key Questions for Parliament”, hosted by Mozilla on 13 September. He was joined by BEUC’s Vanessa Turner and Mozilla’s Mika Shah.

What is the DMA?

The DMA is one of the EU’s flagship proposals, seeking to better regulate digital markets. It is focused on the actions of large platforms which act as “gatekeepers” between businesses and their customers. This may include search engines, social networks, messaging services, operating systems, video sharing platforms and advertising services. The overall aim is to create truly competitive markets, where gatekeepers are not able to impose unfair conditions on businesses and customers, and smaller platforms are able to compete.

What are the main takeaways from the event?

1. Timetable  

While admitting that it may be difficult to achieve, Dr. Schwab was clear about his intentions: the DMA should come into force on 1 January 2023. To achieve this, Parliament must vote, as planned, this December. This underlines the importance of the next few weeks, during which the roughly 2000 amendments proposed will be considered by Schwab’s Internal Market committee.

2. A basic law  

Panellists generally agreed with Schwab’s statement that the DMA should be, in his words “a basic law”. Schwab’s report, published earlier this year, already makes this clear – strengthening the criteria for identifying a platform as a gatekeeper so that fewer planforms would be included.

While keeping relatively tight-lipped about which amendments he might be supporting, he reiterated his belief that it is better to start with a more focused regulation and to ensure its success, before building on it. As part of this, he suggested that there was no need at this stage to expand the list of which platforms might serve as gatekeepers or to do much to strengthen enforcement.

3. The American Dream  

While the rapporteur stressed the importance of implementing strong measures, he also sought to reassure businesses. To him, the DMA is about restoring the competitiveness of digital markets, and nothing more. “That,” he said, “is the American Dream,” – a message seemingly directed across the Atlantic. To this, he added that he wanted to avoid inadvertently damaging consumer choice or restricting innovation.

What are the next steps for the DMA?

The committee’s consideration of amendments will take place on 27 September, before the consideration of compromise amendments one month later. The Internal Market committee will then hold a vote on the Act on 8 November, ahead of a Plenary vote in December.