Finland supports common EU rules on digital platforms
The European Commission has submitted two legislative proposals aimed at making the digital environment safer and fairer for consumers and businesses. One of the proposed regulations concerns digital services and the other concerns the digital market. Finland supports the objectives of the proposed regulations and suggests some clarifications for further preparation.
On 4 February 2021, the Government issued Union Communications to Parliament outlining the content and impact of the Commission’s proposals and Finland’s positions on the proposals.
The aim of the Digital Services Act is to promote the functioning of the digital single market and in particular the services offered by so-called intermediaries. These include cloud services, online platforms and content-sharing networks, among others.
The aim of the proposal is to set EU-wide rules for different online services, ranging from small service providers to global digital platforms. Providers would be subject to due diligence obligations proportionate to their services and their size, with the aim of a safe, predictable and accountable digital environment.
The Government considers that illegal online content should be addressed effectively so that the online environment is not used for illegal purposes. In such a case, regulation must be proportionate to the objective pursued and it must safeguard the freedom of expression and other fundamental rights of users as well as a high level of consumer protection.
The Government supports the objective of combating disinformation and other information influence activities. The proposed regulation contains a number of obligations and measures for service providers, which support this objective and which are, in principle, supported by the Government.
The Government supports the strengthening of the position of consumers, for example through rules that allow businesses on online marketplaces to be tracked and rules on transparency of advertising shown to users. At the same time, the protection of legitimate business secrets of companies should be taken into account.
New obligations of gatekeeper platforms to promote market access for smaller companies
The Digital Markets Act will regulate the 10–15 largest companies that provide core platform services in the EU. The core platform services described in the Act include for example search engines, operating systems and online intermediation services.
The regulation would address unfair practices that companies and consumers encounter on digital platforms. This would increase the transparency of digital services and promote the competitiveness and market access of smaller digital companies. Consumers' choices would increase as companies could offer their services on more than one platform at the same time.
The company would be designated a gatekeeper if it:
- provides at least one core platform service,
- has a significant impact on the internal market,
- offers its business users an important gateway to end users,
- has, or is likely to have in future, an entrenched and durable position in the market.
The legislative proposal also defines quantitative thresholds. If a company meets these thresholds, it is presumed to be a gatekeeper. However, a company would have the opportunity to challenge this presumption. Gatekeeper companies should, among other things, make the data generated by the activities of business users and their customers available to the business users and promote the interoperability of services between different platforms.
The Government supports the objectives of the proposal and considers it justified, as it is not possible to address effectively the problems faced by businesses and consumers by means of the current regulation. However, the obligations must be justified, proportionate and clear. Unnecessary administrative burden should be avoided. In further preparation, particular attention must also be paid to the protection of personal data and the legal protection of gatekeeper companies.
The Speaker of Parliament will refer the Government’s Union Communication to the Grand Committee and at the same time determine which specialised committee or committees will provide statements on the matter to the Grand Committee. The referral of the Communication to the committees will be announced in plenary session.
The Council preparatory body on Competitiveness and the European Parliament’s Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection have also begun to discuss the proposals. Once the Council and the European Parliament have established their positions, they will start tripartite negotiations with the Commission. The institutions will come to a preliminary agreement on the regulatory text during the negotiations, after which the text will have to be approved by each institution again.
Hannele Timonen, Chief Specialist, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 295 047 141 (proposed regulation on digital market)
Kreetta Simola, Senior Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Transport and Communications, tel. +358 50 568 7155 (proposed regulation on digital services)