Portugal vies to push ahead with new EU digital regulation

Portugal's minister for economic affairs said on Thursday (7 January) that Portugal intends to take forward negotiations on the Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Law during the Portuguese presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU).

Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa during a joint press conference with European Council President Michel (not pictured) after a meeting about the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union in Lisbon, Portugal, 05 January 2021. During the first half of this year, Portugal will have its fourth presidency after 1992, 2000 and 2007. [EPA-EFE/TIAGO PETINGA]

Portugal’s minister for economic affairs said on Thursday (7 January) that Portugal intends to take forward negotiations on the Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Law during the Portuguese presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU).

Pedro Siza Vieira, who was speaking at a virtual press conference with foreign correspondents on Portugal’s priorities for the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU, acknowledged that he does not expect to “close all issues” on the new digital legislation during the Portuguese presidency, but that he intends to discuss the matter at ministerial level in order to reach “a consensus that can soon be followed up”.

The two legislative packages in question were proposed by the European Commission last December and aim to regulate the digital market in the EU, with the main objective of protecting consumers and their rights through greater control of major technology platforms such as Google, Facebook and Twitter.

Siza Vieira said EU “cannot afford” not to have legislation regulating the development of the digital economy, and warned that any rule “capable of disciplining” this market will inevitably impact on technology business models.

“We must come up with legislation that is effective and that everyone thinks is fair, even if it has an immediate impact on business models,” said Siza Vieira, referring to a law that seeks to regulate the control that internet giants have over the market.

Asked about European recovery plans, the approval of which is one of the priorities of the Portuguese presidency, he said it was necessary to “move forward as quickly as possible,” refusing to anticipate whether the worsening of the Covid-19 pandemic in Europe would require an increase in funding for the Recovery Fund and asked not to “devalue” the importance of what had already been agreed.

However, he recognised that the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic will force countries to continue to provide immediate support to workers and businesses, “expenditure whose management is more difficult for states” than that which will come later to finance future reforms.

“I hope we can continue these efforts while accelerating the possibility of recovery,” he concluded.

Portugal chairs the Council of the EU during the first half of 2021, which ends on 30 June.

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