Digital markets, new European regulation comes into force


Since May 2, the new European regulation on digital markets (DMA) has been applied in EU countries, with the aim of ensuring fair and contestable markets in the digital sector.

The regulation defines gatekeepers, that is, large digital platforms that act as an important access point between commercial users and consumers and that enjoy a position from which they can dictate the rules and create a bottleneck in the digital economy. To address these problems, the regulation sets out a number of specific obligations that gatekeepers will have to comply with, including the prohibition of certain behaviours.

Potential gatekeepers reaching the established quantitative thresholds have until 3 July to notify the Commission of their core platform services. The Commission will then have 45 working days (until 6 September 2023) to determine whether enterprises reach the thresholds and designate gatekeepers. After being designated, gatekeepers will have six months (until 6 March 2024) to meet the requirements of the Regulation.

Gatekeepers must now:

  • ensure that cancelling a subscription to basic platform services is as simple as subscribing;
  • ensure that the basic functionalities of instant messaging services are interoperable, allowing users to exchange messages, send voice messages or files through messaging applications;
  • give commercial users access to their marketing or advertising performance data on the platform;
  • to inform the European Commission of the acquisitions and mergers they have carried out.

They will also no longer be able to:

  • classify its products or services more favourably than those of other market participants (self-preferential treatment);
  • pre-install certain applications or software or prevent users from easily uninstalling such applications or software;
  • impose the installation of the most important software (such as web browsers) by default to the installation of the operating system;
  • prevent developers from using third-party payment platforms to sell applications;
  • re-use, for the purpose of another service, personal data collected during a service.

If a gatekeeper violates the rules of the Digital Markets Act, it risks a fine of up to 10% of its total worldwide turnover. In the event of a repeat infringement, a fine of up to 20% of worldwide turnover may be imposed.

If a gatekeeper systematically fails to comply with the Digital Markets Act, in other words if it breaches the rules at least three times within eight years, the European Commission may initiate a market investigation and if necessary, impose behavioural or structural remedies.