For example, gatekeepers will have to allow user companies to access data generated by their activities on their platform, or allow user companies to promote their offerings and enter into contracts with their customers outside their platform. They will, however, be prohibited from preventing consumers from accessing the services of companies outside their platforms, or from giving the services and products they offer a more favourable treatment in terms of ranking than comparable services and products offered by third parties on their platform.
Regarding the acquisitions component, the DMA imposes an obligation on gatekeepers to notify any proposed acquisition in which the target assets provide services in the digital sector or any other economic sector that makes it possible to collect digital data. This information will be communicated by the Commission to the competent national authorities, which will be able to use it for merger control purposes, relying on the referral possibilities provided for in Article 22 of Regulation 139/2004.
The DMA will therefore constitute a powerful complementary tool to competition law and will effectively reinforce the fight against some of the most harmful practices implemented by very important gatekeepers.
The Autorité has been strongly committed to an ambitious and effective DMA, being involved in the negotiations from the outset, in order to promote an active role for national competition authorities in implementing the text, with the aim of ensuring optimal coordination between competition law and the DMA, to ensure that the DMA is as effective as possible. This involvement was demonstrated, firstly, by the Autorité’s participation in interministerial discussions aimed at determining the position of the French authorities at the Council of Ministers, and secondly, by discussions with its European counterparts, which resulted in the publication of a joint document by the ECN members. The Autorité also participated, under the aegis of the Permanent Representation of France to the EU, in the negotiations conducted by the Council of the European Union in the context of the French Presidency of the European Union, and was called upon in particular to provide technical expertise on issues of particular relevance to its expertise.
The Council and the Parliament reached a provisional political agreement on the draft regulation on 24 March 2021. The centre of gravity of this text will be European: the European Commission will have sole competence in implementing the powers provided for in the DMA (including the power to designate gatekeepers, update the list of obligations, conduct market investigations, impose fines, including fines up to the limit of 10% of the total worldwide turnover generated during the previous financial year, or 20% in cases of reoffending, etc.).
The national authorities responsible for enforcing the competition rules will nevertheless have to work in close coordination with the European Commission in order to support the latter in implementing the text and ensure that the DMA is smoothly coordinated with competition law.
The DMA therefore provides for the possibility for Member States to empower the national authorities responsible for enforcing the competition rules to conduct investigations into possible breaches of the obligations under the DMA and to transmit their findings to the Commission.
Cooperation and exchange of information between national competition authorities and the Commission will take place in particular through the European Competition Network (ECN), which has proven to be an extremely effective vehicle for cooperation and coordination over the last 20 years.
The complementarity between competition law and the DMA, which was a source of inspiration for drafting the text, will also constitute a guiding principle for the future. Competition law will remain at the forefront of ensuring open and fair digital markets, but it will also help make the DMA adaptable, for example by identifying new abusive practices that will make it possible, where appropriate, to update obligations listed in the DMA.
The DMA will be implemented within six months of its entry into force.