ARTICLE 19 and partner organisations sent a letter to the Director-General of DG CNECT and the Director-General of DG COMP urging them to maximise and clarify third parties’ ability to contribute to the enforcement of the Digital Markets Act (DMA). Third parties – including civil society organisations, consumer associations and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) – have a critical role to play in ensuring the DMA is implemented and enforced effectively. But they face significant asymmetries of information and resources vis-à-vis large technology companies, the gatekeepers the DMA is designed to regulate.
The DMA, which became applicable on 2 May 2023, will have a substantial impact on end users’ fundamental rights, including the rights to free expression and data privacy online. The reach of this impact depends on an effective enforcement of the new rules. We welcome the role for third parties foreseen in the implementation of the DMA, and have similarly advocated for involving civil society in implementing the complementary Digital Services Act (DSA), as well as the EU competition law. But for civil society and other third parties to have a meaningful and practical impact on DMA implementation, the Director-Generals of DG CNECT and GD COMP need to urgently clarify some elements.
Importantly, the DMA is designed to regulate gatekeepers – large online platforms with durable positions of power in specific markets. Clarifying the responsibility of third parties is key to preventing the process from becoming a closed-door discussion between the European Commission and gatekeepers.
To maximise third parties’ ability to contribute to the DMA enforcement, we urgently call on the Commission to:
- Provide clarity on the precise manner and frequency with which third parties will be involved in the course of proceedings under the DMA;
- Clarify what information third parties will be provided with in each case and establish procedures to ensure this is delivered in a timely manner;
- Give third parties the ability to request additional information not included in the non-confidential summaries, where this is necessary to assess gatekeeper compliance with the DMA’s obligations;
- Ensure that gatekeepers engage constructively and substantively with third parties’ input, particularly in relation to proposed remedies and compliance measures;
- Publish clear guidance on the channels through which third parties will be able to inform national competent authorities and/or the Commission about problematic gatekeeper practices within scope of the DMA; and
- Conduct public campaigns to raise awareness among third parties, including civil society organisations and SMEs, of their role in DMA implementation and enforcement.