Passing important EU laws in the European Parliament is often just a ceremony.

Parliament and the Council of Ministers usually agree on the laws themselves months in advance in the so-called trilogue (the European Commission is also at the table).

It was the same with the two most important digital laws of the legislative period, the Digital Services Act (DSA) and the Digital Markets Act (DMA), on Tuesday in Strasbourg.

Henrik Kafsack

Business correspondent in Brussels.

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"This will make Europe the first digital market in the free world with clear rules," said Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton.

The times when digital corporations were unassailable simply because of their size are over.

"With the DMA, the EU is ending the cat-and-mouse game in which the antitrust authorities lagged behind the digital giants in lengthy procedures," said CDU MP and chief negotiator in parliament Andreas Schwab.

"We are ending the omnipotence of the giants and introducing the first instruments to tackle hate and disinformation," said Alexandra Geese, who negotiated the DSA for the Greens.

Competition control and human rights also online

The DMA is directed against the Internet giants, above all Google, Amazon, Facebook (today Meta), Apple and Microsoft, often abbreviated to just GAFAM.

The law is intended to prevent corporations from abusing their control over their Internet platforms.

It is not least about them pushing forward from their core platforms into ever new digital markets and taking control there.

With the existing competition law, the EU can no longer deal with this.

Therefore, companies that act like a kind of bouncer controlling access to one or more platforms are directly banned from certain behaviors.

Among other things, the black list includes improving your own offers in rankings or using the data of business customers in order to then compete with them.

"With the reversal of the burden of proof, companies will have to prove in future that they comply with the DMA rules and allow fair competition on their platforms," ​​says Schwab.

With the DSA, the principle also applies to the Internet: What is forbidden in the analog world cannot be allowed in the digital world.

It is about illegal products as well as hate speech.

It thus replaces the German Network Enforcement Act.

But that's not all.

YouTube, Instagram and other platforms are obliged to regularly assess the risk that their algorithms pose to fundamental rights, respect for human dignity, the protection of minors, freedom of expression, public health or violence against women.

In addition, non-governmental organizations and science have access to the data on the platforms.

"In the future, they can show how young girls are driven into anorexia or why disinformation about the corona virus or from Russia spreads faster than facts," explains Geese.

Seven corporations are in the crosshairs

For the EU Commission, the actual work is only just beginning. DMA and DSA will gradually come into force over the next two years.

The EU authority must clarify who falls under the DMA as said bouncer.

A threshold for this is a market capitalization of more than 75 billion euros.

That should be done by spring next year.

There should initially be seven companies.

The sparrows in Brussels have been whistling it from the rooftops for a long time: in addition to GAFAM, there would be Tiktok from China and Booking from the EU.

It has been clarified who monitors the laws in the commission.

After the trilogue agreement, a dispute broke out between Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager and Breton.

Breton is to take over the DSA, and the notoriously divided commissioners jointly take over the DMA.

Above all, however, the Commission must find qualified personnel.

150 positions are provided for the control of the DSA, which it shares with the states.

According to the Commission, around 80 posts are sufficient for the DMA, for which it is solely responsible.

Far too little, complains Schwab.

The EU could not oppose the armies of lawyers of the Internet giants.

Parliament is pushing for at least 150 DMA posts.

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