The various European Union bodies came to a preliminary agreement on the new Digital Markets Act (DMA) on the 24th of March 2022. The EU is planning to limit the market power of tech giants such as Google, Apple, Facebook/Meta, Amazon, and Microsoft in order to safeguard competition in the European market. In the following interview, Heiko Richter, a senior research fellow for digitalization and competition law at the Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition, explains the purpose of the new legislation and some of its potential weaknesses.
The idea of limiting the power of digital giants is not new. Rules punishing abuse of dominant position or unfair business practices already exist. What’s about to change?
Heiko Richter: The Digital Markets Act, or DMA for short, which is currently being negotiated in non-public consultations between the EU Parliament, Council and Commission, aims to provide a uniform EU-wide legal framework for digital markets in order to proactively prevent distortions of competition and stop certain business practices.The aim is also to facilitate the application of the law and speed up the process.
Why are the existing rules insufficient?
So far, especially in antitrust law, we have only ex-post rules: these only take effect after an infringement has occurred or is suspected. As a result, it takes a very long time before the behavior is sanctioned. In some cases, the contested acts took place up to ten years ago and the legal proceedings have still not been concluded. The result is that antitrust law is too slow because it takes action reactively.
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