Amendments crowd DMA’s plenary vote, and it’s not over yet

Image of the press room of the European Parliament in Strasbourg. [DiegoMariottini/Shutterstock]

Despite a ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ between the main political groups in the European Parliament, a number of alternative amendments to the proposed Digital Markets Act (DMA) have been tabled ahead of the plenary vote due on 14-15 December, and more surprises might come later in the week.

Lawmaker Andreas Schwab of the European People’s Party, the lead negotiator for the DMA, had agreed with his counterparts from the conservative, liberal and social-democrat groups not to table amendments during the plenary vote.

While for Schwab that meant that no amendment should be presented, other parties took it to mean not presenting any amendment as a political group. The Parliament’s committees on industry (ITRE) and economy (ECON) have both used their power as associated committees to present a number of amendments.

“The EPP group had just committed not to support the plenary amendments and that’s what we did. All the rest has to be seen next week,” Schwab told EURACTIV.

Although the deadline for tabling amendments was on Wednesday (8 December), MEPs have until Friday to request a split, asking to vote one amendment in two or more parts.

ECON & ITRE

Of the six amendments initially proposed in ECON, on which EURACTIV reported earlier this week, five were finally admitted. Following opposition from Schwab’s EPP, the amendment on compliance officers was withdrawn because it fell outside of ECON’s core competences.

ECON rapporteur, the liberal Stéphanie Yon-Courtin, could have had the support of the other political groups to push also that amendment through but preferred to withdraw it “in a spirit of compromise”, EURACTIV was told.

The key amendments on default settings and killer acquisitions were however maintained.

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On the initiative of its rapporteur Carlos Zorrinho, the industry committee also tabled three amendments. ITRE managed to introduce provisions on interoperability of messaging services and social media, forcing different platforms to communicate with each other.

The measures were however considered not strong enough in ensuring interoperability obligations, hence one of the amendments is trying to specify such obligations “shall be defined by reference to the open technologies, open standards and open protocols, including the technical interface (Application Programming Interface).”

These technical requirements are intended to enable the providers of competing services to be able to operate with the gatekeepers’ platform in practice.

Another proposal would mandate the European Commission to deliver an annual report on the state of the digital economy, a more elaborate version of an amendment put forth in ECON, as it would include an overview of the supervisory measures and an assessment of the applications of the DMA and its sister proposal, the Digital Services Act (DSA).

The third amendment proposes to add in the preamble a mention to digital entrepreneurship, intended as the development of innovative business models based on emerging technology.

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The French & The Left

The associated committees were not the only ones putting forth amendments.

On Wednesday morning, French MEPs Emmanuel Maurel and Geoffroy Didier circulated an email marked as urgent, calling on lawmakers to co-sign their amendments. The two French lawmakers succeeded in securing enough signatories on three amendments.

One of them changes the scope of the proposal, extending the obligations from the gatekeepers’ main platforms to their ancillary services.

Interoperability measures have also been proposed to make sure digital content such as music or movies is compatible with any platform.

Moreover, Maurel tabled five more amendments on behalf of his political group, The Left.

“I have made it a point of honour to table amendments in favour of regulating data collection and its use,” Maurel told EURACTIV.

The wording is disruptive by making data-sharing provisions much stricter. In the current version, gatekeepers will not be able to combine personal data of a core service with any other service, unless users provide explicit consent.

On top of that, an amendment adds that “personal data collected or generated by gatekeepers should not be processed for commercial purposes,” which would essentially prevent online platforms from performing any profiling, targeted advertising or personalised user experience.

These measures are combined with a proposed change to a key obligation that would prevent gatekeepers from combining data from different services even with the explicit consent of the users. That would result in banning gatekeepers from combing and cross-using data from other services.

Similar stricter measures are also put forth in terms of processing sensitive information, notably, data related to racial origin, political views, religious beliefs and sexual orientation. According to the amendment, the gatekeepers would not be able to use any such data even with consent from the user.

An additional amendment is intended to create fair access conditions to personal data for businesses that use a gatekeeper’s service to reach their customer. The gatekeeper should put the business user in the condition to obtain the consent for processing personal data in a way that is not “more burdensome than for its own services.”

Another amendment would prevent platforms from forcing consumers or businesses to subscribe or register for using their main services.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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