Loonela: Restraining digital giants creates level playing field in Europe

Vivian Loonela.
Vivian Loonela. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

The EU's Digital Market Act (DMA), set to introduce new rules for digital giants like Amazon and Meta, will give European companies back control over their data and limits big platforms' ability to push aside competitors.

"We find ourselves in a situation where digital giants play a key role in the European economy and consumer behavior. It has been suggested for some time that the way they operate on the free market affects other companies' access to digital services, which is problematic. Therefore, the EU concentrated on truly colossal companies all of which have at least 45 million users in the EU, over 10,000 business clients and considerable turnover," Vivian Loonela, head of the EU Representation in Estonia, told ERR.

Loonela explained that digital giants will be forced to consider European competition and other consumer protection rules, which they so far have not done to the extent which European firms and customers expect.

"All European companies own their data again, can move it from one platform to the next, have a more level playing field. If you have a good product or service you want to sell, it will no longer be sidelined," Loonela added.

In Estonia, the introduction of the DMA concerns large media companies offering digital content, such as Ekspress Grupp.

"The DMA is definitely welcome, while it is also a matter of execution and monitoring. There will surely be lawsuits where the gatekeepers will try to get off that list," said Mari-Liis Rüütsalu, CEO of Ekspress Grupp.

She said that advertising services, content delivery and positioning are the aspects which most affect media organizations. "In the future, the ability to pass restricted data on to third parties for commercial purposes without the user's consent would be limited. Today, even if the user is prompted for their permission, granting it is necessary to be able to access services. The DMA should make it more difficult for digital giants to rule over data," Rüütsalu said.

The CEO added that the DMA will also make search engine algorithms transparent, which is bound to have an effect in a society where today no one knows on what kind of basis and in what order data is presented to users.

"Major platforms, which today enjoy a monopoly position, can lay down rules to protect their own business models and undermine competition to keep new products and services off the market. It could ideally be much simpler in the future when the gatekeepers are no longer the only ones in charge of deciding who gets access or cooperation. We can add to the list rigid price models and rules, which do not give many smaller services a chance as there seems to be no choice currently."

The European Commission on Wednesday published the names of the six digital services providers to which stricter operational rules will apply. The DMA classifies as gatekeepers Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, ByteDance, Meta and Microsoft.

Politico wrote that EU competition authorities have struggled to rein in the dominant position of companies like Microsoft or Google. The DMA marks a new, robust attempt to foster fair play online.


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Editor: Mari Peegel, Marcus Turovski

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