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Europe – Asia Center

Press release: EU’s leading role in the global Internet governance

Brussels, 5th September – Digital Markets Act (DMA) and Digital Services Act (DSA) as the legislative step of the European block towards strengthening ‘EU’s Strategic autonomy’: high-level dialogue with European Parliament’s member and lead rapporteur dr. Andreas Schwab and Mark Boris Andrijanič, former Minister for Digital transformation, Slovenia

With the rise and integration of digital platforms into all aspects of European life, EU recognized the need to regulate not only the benefits of digital transformation, but also the disadvantages and risks, such as the negative influence on the fundamental rights, state of democracies, societies and economies at large. It is through the legislative framework of Digital Markets Act that European strategic autonomy and tackling of the competition rules would be reinforced.

In the opening address, the Chairman of Europe – Asia Center, Amb. (ret.) Piet Steel outlined: “the Digital Markets Act intends to ensure a high degree of competition and a level playing field in the European Digital markets by preventing big tech companies from abusing their market power, and by allowing new players to enter the market.” He furthermore highlighted EU’s leadership in regulating digital space with Digital Services Act. «The update of legal framework reinforces European Union’s efforts with illegal and harmful content, hate speech, political and health related disinformation, and so on and so forth ». He addressed the need for respecting rule of law and affirm enforcement, in order to take back control of its citizens’ fundamental rights and prevent digital abuses.

In his keynote address Dr. Andreas Schwab, member of the European People’s Party (EPP) for Germans Christian Democratic Union Party (CDU) and lead rapporteur on DMA/ DSA stated: “…we Europeans want … the legislation to make sure that fairness and contestability of markets is ensured.”

He furthermore addressed the significance of detailed outlining of the DMA/ DSA legislative framework and strong political commitment, demonstrating high level of responsibility the European Union has as the leading global regulator. He highlighted EU’s intention to defend democracies. “There can be no state authority that stops them (citizens) from being successful if they abide by the law. And there should be no company and no bottleneck in the digital area that stops them from making their success.” Existing business practices by the tech companies favour big countries, creating positive effect for them, yet at the same time creating harmful economic effect on the smaller ones. He concludes: “the Digital Markets Act starts a new era of tech regulation…And the choice between what is good and what is bad. It must be done with all stakeholders, competitors, with users and with consumers. And not only by those in control of the steering mechanisms of the bottlenecks.”

Mr. Mark Boris Andrijanič, the former Minister for Digitalization of Republic of Slovenia shared his keynote address highlighting: “the current geopolitical tensions underpinned by the war in Ukraine, make the US leadership and regulating cyberspace even more important and indispensable than ever before. These circumstances also create a new sense of urgency for a multilateral approach to cyberspace governance, especially in areas like cybersecurity, digital markets, but also AI. There is absolutely no alternative to a comprehensive global dialogue, and action indeed, if we want to reverse the emerging trend of multipolar digital world.”

He remains cautiously optimistic about Europe’s vision on an inclusive and human centric digital transformation, especially in light of EU’s weaker performance in creating and exporting digital services, digital innovation and technological progress vis a vis US and China. In order to create an environment that will breed Digital Champions of the future and allow European start-ups to scale their operations across the continent, the EU needs to «boost research funding and encourage closer collaboration between excellent universities and the industry».

Mr Andrijanič emphasized that the Data Governance Act will create a European single market for data, essential for the growth of Europe’s digital economy. Furthermore, “the most significant contribution of the DSA is to introduce standard of illegal offline behaviour that should also be illegal online.” It was the alignment of interests between the so called maximalist and minimalist groups of the EU countries, which posed the key challenge during the Slovenian presidency of the EU Council in 2021, to limit the regulatory burden for the SMEs. He also elaborated on the AI Act, highlighting it as a pioneering piece of Europe’s digital legislation, seeking to codify the high standards of AI algorithms and their application, combining a risk-based approach with an effective enforcement mechanism. Legislative framework, which if successful in international dialogue, could already be adopted during the Czech presidency.

Following the keynote address, Dr. Sebastian Hallensleben, a member of the expert advisory board of the EU standard ICT program stated: “we have to be clear that as important as the DMA and the DSA are, they are mainly focused on preventing the bad, and lack the focus on fostering the good.” He outlines three possible scenarios of future development. Firstly, in scope of digital transition we should not only look at platforms, but rather at protocols that are still to be established. Secondly, there is high necessity for integration of digital identities, enabling the inclusion of unverified accounts, accounts that are verified in some form and lastly, of identities that derive from different government issued IDs. With the existing scope of digital identities available, degree of danger remains and hence the need to re-think the digital identity and pseudonymous identity infrastructures as well as the privacy protecting identities. Lastly, there is a pressing need for encouraging the variety of competitors in developing new business models, moving beyond the model of sold personal data.

Dr. Miguel Otero-Iglesias, from the IE School of Global and Public Affairs and Elcano Royal Institute, with applause for the new Act contributing to the comprehensiveness of the regulatory framework, expressed his concern about the consistency of the legislation. To secure the revolution and new social contract a success, there is need for deepening the fiscal union, in order to create a single market and capital markets. He furthermore illustrated his concerns in three aspects: firstly, the likelihood to create a special unit in the European Commission to deal with digital markets, secondly, the need for a periodic revisions of the legal framework and lastly, the development of technical and supervisory capacities to guarantee smooth communication and information flows.

Full webinar available on the link:

For press enquiries:

Matic Gajšek, Deputy director Europe – Asia Center


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