Remarks by Executive Vice-President Vestager for the political agreement on the Digital Markets Act

© European Union, 2021, Source: EC - Audiovisual Service, Margrethe Vestager© European Union, 2021, Source: EC - Audiovisual Service, Margrethe Vestager

It is less than 18 months ago that the Commission tabled the two proposals for the Digital Markets Act and the Digital Service act. And here we are today. And with the processes foreseen, these pieces of legislation will would have been voted and published in the Official Journal, so coming into force, sometime in October. That is really, really fast. That means tabling proposal, negotiating positions, negotiating the final text, getting all the way to enforcement in one European Parliament mandate. That is really fast.

This is also why these congratulations are not just sort of empty promotions. They show that this is the team work it takes to work on something as comprehensive as it has just been mentioned, to make it actually happen. Of course, I would also like to personally thank both Andreas, Cedric and Thierry for their cooperation. With us, there are – I think I do not exaggerate – more than a hundred people, in the Cabinets, on the technical side, the interpreters who unable this. Everything that has been needed to make this happen. And I think it shows also the willingness for our democracy to say ‘we will reign this in, we will make sure that the market is open and contestable’.

Also, I have a bit of history, as well as Andreas here, because businesses need to be able to get to the market. Over these years as Commissioner for Competition, complaints have been coming through our doors. We had not one, not two, but three Google cases. We are now on the fourth. We had two Amazon cases before; we now have two open Amazon cases again. We have three Apple cases; we have a Facebook case. We have seen what can happen in a market place and we see the changes in the specifics in every case. And we share this with the national enforcers within the European Union. They got the complaints coming through their doors as well. We had the Italian case, we had the Dutch case, and we had the German case.

The thing is that what we have learnt over these years is that we can correct in specific cases, we can punish illegal behaviour, but when things become systematic, then we need regulation as well. If there is a systemic misbehaviour, then we need regulation to come in.

For companies that play a role as gatekeepers, now the Digital Markets Act will set the rules of the game. This is similar to what has been done a long time ago in sectors such as banking, telecoms, energy, transport where regulation and competition rules work hand in hand. At long last, we establish the same reality here. These are all markets in which some firms play a special role that requires greater regulatory oversight. And this is something that many jurisdictions around the world have come to realise. So I am pleased to be here with co-legislators and satisfied that they’ve kept the main architecture of  our proposal – the centralised enforcement at EU level, a designation process to identify “gatekeepers” that are in scope and a series of do’s and don’ts imposed on them.  The DMA will also give us the tools to enforce these obligations. Without enforcement, there is no real change on the ground. The possibility to intervene if gatekeepers break the rules, with fines and a wide range of sanctions in case of systematic non-compliance.

A lot of the discussions in the trilogues have been about the scope of the obligations. Also with heated debates, this has not come without real political engagement. For example, a new interoperability obligation between messaging services has been added, as well as a ban on data collection for the purpose of targeted advertising unless there is effective consent.

The political agreement today has also brought changes to the governance structure, for example with a bigger involvement of national competition authorities in the investigative parts of the Digital Markets Act.

Finally, a greater role has been given to third parties and possible sanctions in case of non-compliance have been widened. It now also includes the possibility of a merger ban has been added in this process.

I think we have created something with an original architecture that is effective, with more challenging obligations for some of those object to designation and I want to thank you for doing this. As Cedric just said, we have the Digital Services Act ahead of us and it has been complicated but successful to find the division of work between the two, when it comes to targeted advertisement and minors, but there is also democracy in this proposal, because a fair market place is part of the democracy. The steps we took last night are huge steps, in terms of securing every business but also the digital market place is fair for the benefit of every consumer.

Thank you very much for the cooperation.