EU countries hope to find common ground to limit powers of tech giants

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EU countries project that they will agree on common negotiating positions on two sets of draft rules intended to curb the powers of US tech giants on November 25, according to people involved in the discussion. Squabbling among the EU lawmakers could delay the rules’ time to adoption.

The Digital Markets Act (DMA) is an essential list of dos and don’ts for gatekeeper companies (those that control data and access to their platform.) They include Facebook (Meta), Apple, Alphabet’s Google, and Amazon. The Digital Services Act (DSA) puts the onus on tech companies to police illegal content on their online platforms, with hefty fines in case of violations.

The Ireland problem

EU countries have agreed on most of the key points in the DSA and will discuss the one remaining issue (who gets to regulate the online behemoths) in a preparatory meeting on November 8, according to the sources. The current rules mean that Ireland regulates Apple, Google, and Facebook because their European headquarters are in the country. Some countries in the bloc would like to share in the profits extracted from their countries and channelled through Ireland (it’s legal but in an extremely cynical way).

The plan moving forward

A compromise proposal put forth by the French government intends to allow the European Commission to regulate the online giants with more than 45 million active users in the EU in one year. Regarding the DMA, EU countries are likely to support the Commission as the only enforcer. The sources added that the EU executive (with all its revolving doors) will provide 80 people to take on the task. Lawmakers, the bloc’s member states, and the Commission have to smoothen out their differences before the rules can be adopted.