Europe is working on a new digital market law aimed at limiting the dominance of big tech giants such as Amazon, Google and Facebook (Meta). But other e-commerce players, such as Zalando and Bol.com, fear that they too will be harmed.
The first steps have been taken towards the adoption of the “Digital Markets Act”, which aims to preserve the free online market and limit the power of the big technological players. The European Commission submitted the bill last December, and the European Parliament now approved it.
The concrete content of the law is still being discussed, but it is already certain that the biggest international tech players, such as Amazon, Google, Facebook and Alibaba, will be given a role of “gatekeepers”. They will be responsible for easy and free access to online consumption, including from competitors.
This means, for example, that Amazon or Alibaba must also allow sellers in their marketplace to sell on other platforms. Google Shopping cannot prioritize the results of its store over those of other online stores or price comparison sites. The law also aims to make buyouts more difficult, so that the tech giants do not continue to consolidate their dominant position.
European web giants also in danger
Surprisingly enough, the European representatives reinforced the proposal. Originally, the strict rules were to apply to companies with a minimum turnover of 8 billion euros and a market value of 80 billion euros. Following the Commission’s vote this week, these criteria have risen to 6.5 billion euros in turnover and 65 billion euros in market value. Companies with 45 million active end users will also be subject to this law.
While the European tech and e-commerce sector initially supported the new law, today it is concerned. It could also be affected. European Tech Alliance e-commerce companies, of which Booking, Bol.com and Zalando are part, believe that the strengthening of conditions is a ” obstacle to growth European e-commerce platforms ”, reports the FD. The Bol.com marketplace is particularly worried now that it will go public next year. Ahold Delhaize fears that the law is a brake on the growth of “innovative European players”.
The European Tech Alliance now advocates a distinction between social media networks and e-commerce companies. For the latter, the number of active users should not be taken into account, but only the number of buying customers, she believes. Negotiations on the bill will continue in the coming weeks, with the final Digital Markets Act not expected to come into force until 2023.
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Will online stores suffer from the law against the tech giants?