DMA Delayed To 2023 In EU

May 9, 2022
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More groundwork needs to be done by the EU as the antitrust chief confirms that the Digital Markets Act (DMA) enforcers will be in place by spring of next year, while in the UK, a Digital Markets Unit is set to be included in the Queen's speech.

More groundwork needs to be done by the EU as the antitrust chief confirms that the Digital Markets Act (DMA) enforcers will be in place by spring of next year, while in the UK, a Digital Markets Unit is set to be included in the Queen's speech.

At a conference last week, Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s antitrust chief, told attendees that the DMA will be coming into force in 2023, rather than later this year as was anticipated.

The EU’s DMA, which was first proposed at the end of 2020, aims to rein in large online platforms and has been viewed as one of the trading bloc’s most ambitious pieces of legislation in recent years. An agreement regarding the DMA was reached by negotiators for the EU’s co-legislators a few weeks ago.

“The DMA will enter into force next spring and we are getting ready for enforcement as soon as the first notifications come in,” said Vestager, hot off the heels of her recent intervention regarding Apple Pay in a speech to the International Competition Network conference in Berlin.

The reasoning behind this delay is to do with preparation on Brussels’ side, she suggested.

“This next chapter is exciting. It means a lot of concrete preparations. It's about setting up new structures within the commission, pooling resources from DG Comp and Connect [Directorate-General for Competition and Connect] based on relevant experience,” she said.

“It's about hiring staff. It's about preparing the IT systems. It's about drafting further legal texts on procedures or notification forms. Our teams are currently busy with all these preparations and we're aiming to come forward with the new structures very soon.”

Vestager acknowledged the excitement and/or anticipation surrounding the DMA, which will change the rules for large technology companies such as Apple and Meta, putting them under more scrutiny with regard to how they treat both businesses and consumers on their platform.

“Many of you will be watching the rollout of the DMA with great interest. This will be a mutual learning experience. The EU has worked hard to find the right balance and I think we have come up with something that is tough, but also very fair.”

Discussing what some were referring to as the "Great Pivot to Digital Regulation", Vestager, a former finance minister in Denmark, suggested that close cooperation with competition authorities, both inside and outside the EU, will be crucial.

“This is irrespective of whether they apply traditional enforcement tools or have developed their own specific regulatory instruments.”

Regulators will not be short of work, she pointed out, adding that part of the preparatory work for the DMA will involve discussing future cooperation with national competition authorities on the DMA, as well as coordination between the DMA and existing national regulations.

When the DMA was originally proposed, a key concern among national regulators was what role they would have to play, with senior officials from the Dutch and Belgian authorities stating in March last year that there was room for more involvement in the enforcement of the DMA by the national authorities.

“It’s impossible that they will all be handled in Brussels because the resources necessary for that are just enormous, so I think we should think a little bit and work a little bit in the context of the DMA,” said Dutch competition chief Martijn Snoep at the time.

However, the Dutch authorities concluded in their 2021 investigation into near-field communication payments that the DMA and other relevant EU regulation, like the revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2), would be able to solve these issues.

UK presses ahead

Vestager’s intervention comes at the same time as news that the UK’s Digital Markets Unit, which is part of the Competition and Markets Authority, has been confirmed as part of next week’s governmental agenda, the Queen's Speech.

The new Digital Markets Unit will be given powers to clamp down on "predatory practices" of some firms.

The regulator will also have the power to fine companies up to 10 percent of their global turnover if they fail to comply.

And beyond, as an attempt to boost competition among technology firms, the rules also aim to give users more control over their data.

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