EU lawmakers rush to pass online platform bills

The European Parliament will hold the last plenary session before the July 4-7 summer recess, and lawmakers are racing to get all the legal texts ready for a vote. As expected, the program for the next plenary session is rich in proposals, from international cooperation agreements to banking unions and anti-fraud rules.

But there are two long-awaited proposals that could be in the spotlight, and Google, Apple, Meta and other Big Tech companies may be paying close attention. The Digital Markets Act (DMA) and the Digital Services Act (DSA) can be formally approved by the plenary of the European Parliament. This would mean that these two legal texts would pass the last procedural hurdle in Parliament: they would be transmitted to the Council of the EU and then published in the Official Journal of the EU.

The DMA will prohibit certain practices used by large platforms playing the role of “gatekeepers” and will allow the European Commission to carry out market investigations and impose heavy fines. The bill targets large companies providing so-called “core platform” services most prone to unfair commercial practices, such as social networks or search engines, with a market capitalization of at least 75 billion euros or an annual turnover of 7.5 billion.

The European Parliament committee approved an agreement with the Council of the EU on May 16, paving the way for final approval at the next plenary session, but last-minute amendments are always possible, as long as it is are small changes – otherwise it could derail the agreement with the EU Council. That’s what lawmakers are likely discussing this week. In preparation for next week’s plenary session, lawmakers may still add a few changes to ensure there are no procedural inconsistencies with other laws that the DMA might affect.

Once the DMA is published in the Official Journal of the EU, it will enter into force 20 days after its publication, but the application of the provisions will not start until six months later. So any real risk to Big Tech companies will likely be pushed back to 2023.

The DSA is a landmark law that will hold Big Tech companies accountable for illegal content posted on their platforms – they will be required to put mechanisms in place to ensure the content is removed in a timely manner. Online platforms will be forced to be more transparent and accountable, for example by allowing users to be informed of how content is recommended to them. Very large online platforms will have to offer users at least one non-profiling option. Additional rules on online advertising are also introduced, including a ban on the use of sensitive data or the targeting of minors. So-called “dark patterns” and deceptive practices aimed at manipulating user choices will also be prohibited.

Read more: EU may unveil Digital Services Act on Friday, but it’s not done

The European Parliament committee reached an agreement with the Council of the EU just two weeks ago, on June 16, showing the interest of lawmakers in adopting the two legal texts, DMA and DSA, during the last plenary session before the summer. Once published in the Official Journal of the EU, the DSA will enter into force 20 days after its publication, but the provisions will start to apply 15 months later.

Interestingly, despite lawmakers’ efforts to put both bills to a vote next week, they have yet to be included in the official voting schedule, just for debate on Monday, July 4. Nevertheless, the European Parliament left enough space for new votes on Wednesday 6 and Thursday 7, and after Monday’s debate, lawmakers could agree to move the bills to the vote for one of these two days. .

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