Eu travel tech strongly supports the proposal of the European Commission for a Digital Markets Act. Digital platforms bring important benefits for European consumers and contribute to the internal market by increasing consumer choice, opening new business opportunities and facilitating cross-border trading. But longstanding concerns have been raised by many stakeholders, including eu travel tech members, regarding unfair practices of a few large platforms acting de facto as ‘gatekeepers’. Intervention based on competition law alone has proven insufficient to address and deter such conducts. Eu travel tech therefore believes that ex post enforcement should be complemented by ex ante rules such as those proposed by the Commission, ensuring EU markets remain fair and contestable to the benefit of consumers.
We identify the following areas for improvements in the Commission proposal.
Regarding the definition of gatekeepers and the scope of the Regulation:
● The concept of “user dependency”, characterised by the lack of multi-homing, shall be a core element of the definition of gatekeeper, as the key feature of such platforms is the lock-in effects that they have on consumers and businesses. If consumers and business users retain wide possibilities to circumvent the gateway by transacting outside the platforms, then the platform cannot be considered a gatekeeper.
● The notion of “active end users” shall be adequately defined, taking into account the specificities of each business model and their ability to monetise their core platform services. Indeed, for certain type of platforms such as marketplaces, a high number of “visitors” combined with a lower number of ‘transactors’ could actually be a clear sign of wide multihoming for end users.
● The designation procedure shall be as efficient as possible to avoid unnecessary delays.
Regarding the obligations imposed on gatekeepers:
● The horizontal approach of the proposal may limit its effectiveness as improperly defined obligations could have for effect a slowing down of the application of the text. All prohibitions under articles 5 and 6 shall be sufficiently well tailored to avoid this impediment. To this end, we suggest for these obligations to be adapted for each specific business model.
● The ban on self-preferencing (article 6 (d)) shall be made more prescriptive by taking into account the specific issues raised by the search engine business model. In order to be effective, the ban shall cover not only discriminatory ranking but also discriminatory display in favour of the services offered by the search engine.
Finally, sufficient resources shall be allocated to the enforcement of the Regulation to ensure its effective implementation, and a clear framework shall be provided for the participation of third parties in proceedings.
Please see below our position paper.