Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Questions (46)

Darren O'Rourke


46. Deputy Darren O'Rourke asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the status of Ireland’s position on the EU Digital Services and the Digital Markets Acts. [40895/21]

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Written answers (Question to Enterprise)

As part of the European Digital Strategy, Shaping Europe’s Digital Future, the European Commission published its proposals for a Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act on 15 December 2020. These proposals aim to create a safer digital space in which the fundamental rights of all users of digital services are protected; and establish a level playing field to foster innovation, growth, and competitiveness, both in the European Single Market and globally.

The Digital Services Act proposal seeks to ensure the best conditions for the provision of innovative digital services in the internal market, to contribute to online safety and the protection of fundamental rights, and to set a robust and durable governance structure for the effective supervision of providers of intermediary services. The Digital Markets Act introduces rules for platforms that act as “gatekeepers” in the digital sector. The Digital Markets Act builds on the horizontal Platforms-to-Business Regulation and sets out harmonised rules defining and prohibiting unfair practices by these platforms and provides for an enforcement mechanism based on market investigations.

This Department has engaged in an extensive cross-Government collaboration of relevant departments and a wider national stakeholder consultation on both proposals, including a public consultation for stakeholders in January 2021 and ongoing bilateral consultations with companies and regulators during the negotiation process to date. The submissions received have contributed to the preparation of Ireland’s formal negotiating position on the proposal.

Ireland welcomes the Digital Services Act proposal and the fact that the Act builds upon the core principles of the e-Commerce Directive, particularly the country-of-origin principle, as well as its harmonising approach to the issue of notice and takedown and the arrangements for cross border co-operation that it puts in place.

We also welcome that the proposal seeks to contribute to online safety and the protection of fundamental rights, and to provide for the effective supervision of providers of intermediary services especially those that have been seen to play such a key role in providing much needed information in time of crisis. It is important that this information can be relied upon and the measures contained in the proposal are intended to ensure that this is the case.

It is important that this Regulation continues to provide the clarity for business that the e-Commerce Directive has done for the past twenty years whilst promoting innovation. The approach proposed for the removal of illegal content online and the method of co-ordinating the resolution of cross border complaints to ensure that clarity is maintained needs to be considered carefully.

Officials in this Department are currently considering a compromise text for the Digital Services Act published in June 2021.

Ireland agrees with the problem definition as defined in the Digital Markets Act and fully supports the high-level objectives outlined therein. To deliver on these objectives however, the regulatory regime must be agile, flexible and future-proofed to meet the challenges posed by contemporary digital markets. We do feel there are areas of the Digital Markets Act proposal where improvements are necessary to ensure the obligations proposed are proportionate and for it to provide the optimal level of legal and regulatory certainty for all affected stakeholders.

The Commission have set a schedule to have a general approach on both proposals agreed by November 2021.