Chapter I – Subject matter, scope and definitions (Art. 1-2)
Art. 1 DMA - Subject matter and scope
- The purpose of this Regulation is to contribute to the proper functioning of the internal market by laying down harmonised rules ensuring for all businesses, contestable and fair markets in the digital sector across the Union where gatekeepers are present, to the benefit of business users and end users.
- This Regulation shall apply to core platform services provided or offered by gatekeepers to business users established in the Union or end users established or located in the Union, irrespective of the place of establishment or residence of the gatekeepers and irrespective of the law otherwise applicable to the provision of service.
- This Regulation shall not apply to markets related to:
- electronic communications networks as defined in Article 2, point (1), of Directive (EU) 2018/1972;
- electronic communications services as defined in Article 2, point (4), of Directive (EU) 2018/1972, other than those related to number-independent interpersonal communications services.
- With regard to interpersonal communications services as defined in Article 2, point (5) of Directive (EU) 2018/1972, this Regulation is without prejudice to the powers and responsibilities granted to the national regulatory and other competent authorities by virtue of Article 61 of that Directive.
- In order to avoid the fragmentation of the internal market, Member States shall not impose further obligations on gatekeepers by way of laws, regulations or administrative measures for the purpose of ensuring contestable and fair markets. Nothing in this Regulation precludes Member States from imposing obligations on undertakings, including undertakings providing core platform services, for matters falling outside the scope of this Regulation, provided that those obligations are compatible with Union law and do not result from the fact that the relevant undertakings have the status of a gatekeeper within the meaning of this Regulation.
- This Regulation is without prejudice to the application of Articles 101 and 102 TFEU. It is also without prejudice to the application of:
- national competition rules prohibiting anti-competitive agreements, decisions by associations of undertakings, concerted practices and abuses of dominant positions;
- national competition rules prohibiting other forms of unilateral conduct insofar as they are applied to undertakings other than gatekeepers or amount to the imposition of further obligations on gatekeepers; and
- Council Regulation (EC) No 139/2004 (1) and national rules concerning merger control.
- National authorities shall not take decisions which run counter to a decision adopted by the Commission under this Regulation. The Commission and Member States shall work in close cooperation and coordinate their enforcement actions on the basis of the principles established in Articles 37 and 38.
(1) Council Regulation (EC) No 139/2004 of 20 January 2004 on the control of concentrations between undertakings (the EC Merger Regulation) (OJ L 24, 29.1.2004, p. 1).
Digital services in general and online platforms in particular play an increasingly important role in the economy, in particular in the internal market, by enabling businesses to reach users throughout the Union, by facilitating cross-border trade and by opening entirely new business opportunities to a large number of companies in the Union to the benefit of consumers in the Union.
At the same time, among those digital services, core platform services feature a number of characteristics that can be exploited by the undertakings providing them. An example of such characteristics of core platform services is extreme scale economies, which often result from nearly zero marginal costs to add business users or end users. Other such characteristics of core platform services are very strong network effects, an ability to connect many business users with many end users through the multisidedness of these services, a significant degree of dependence of both business users and end users, lock-in effects, a lack of multi-homing for the same purpose by end users, vertical integration, and data driven-advantages. All these characteristics, combined with unfair practices by undertakings providing the core platform services, can have the effect of substantially undermining the contestability of the core platform services, as well as impacting the fairness of the commercial relationship between undertakings providing such services and their business users and end users. In practice, this leads to rapid and potentially far-reaching decreases in business users’ and end users’ choice, and therefore can confer on the provider of those services the position of a so-called gatekeeper. At the same time, it should be recognised that services which act in a non-commercial purpose capacity such as collaborative projects should not be considered as core platform services for the purpose of this Regulation.
A small number of large undertakings providing core platform services have emerged with considerable economic power that could qualify them to be designated as gatekeepers pursuant to this Regulation. Typically, they feature an ability to connect many business users with many end users through their services, which, in turn, enables them to leverage their advantages, such as their access to large amounts of data, from one area of activity to another. Some of those undertakings exercise control over whole platform ecosystems in the digital economy and are structurally extremely difficult to challenge or contest by existing or new market operators, irrespective of how innovative and efficient those market operators may be. Contestability is reduced in particular due to the existence of very high barriers to entry or exit, including high investment costs, which cannot, or not easily, be recuperated in case of exit, and the absence of, or reduced access to, some key inputs in the digital economy, such as data. As a result, the likelihood increases that the underlying markets do not function well, or will soon fail to function well.
The combination of those features of gatekeeper is likely to lead, in many cases, to serious imbalances in bargaining power and, consequently, to unfair practices and conditions for business users, as well as for end users of core platform services provided by gatekeepers, to the detriment of prices, quality, fair competition, choice and innovation in the digital sector.
It follows that the market processes are often incapable of ensuring fair economic outcomes with regard to core platform services. Although Articles 101 and 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) apply to the conduct of gatekeepers, the scope of those provisions is limited to certain instances of market power, for example dominance on specific markets and of anti-competitive behaviour, and enforcement occurs ex post and requires an extensive investigation of often very complex facts on a case by case basis. Moreover, existing Union law does not address, or does not address effectively, the challenges to the effective functioning of the internal market posed by the conduct of gatekeepers that are not necessarily dominant in competition-law terms.
Gatekeepers have a significant impact on the internal market, providing gateways for a large number of business users to reach end users everywhere in the Union and on different markets. The adverse impact of unfair practices on the internal market and the particularly weak contestability of core platform services, including the negative societal and economic implications of such unfair practices, have led national legislators and sectoral regulators to act. A number of regulatory solutions have already been adopted at national level or proposed to address unfair practices and the contestability of digital services or at least with regard to some of them. This has created divergent regulatory solutions which results in the fragmentation of the internal market, thus raising the risk of increased compliance costs due to different sets of national regulatory requirements.
Therefore, the purpose of this Regulation is to contribute to the proper functioning of the internal market by laying down rules to ensure contestability and fairness for the markets in the digital sector in general, and for business users and end users of core platform services provided by gatekeepers in particular. Business users and end users of core platform services provided by gatekeepers should be afforded appropriate regulatory safeguards throughout the Union against the unfair practices of gatekeepers, in order to facilitate cross-border business within the Union and thereby improve the proper functioning of the internal market, and to eliminate existing or likely emerging fragmentation in the specific areas covered by this Regulation. Moreover, while gatekeepers tend to adopt global or at least pan-European business models and algorithmic structures, they can adopt, and in some cases have adopted, different business conditions and practices in different Member States, which is liable to create disparities between the competitive conditions for the users of core platform services provided by gatekeepers, to the detriment of integration of the internal market.
By approximating diverging national laws, it is possible to eliminate obstacles to the freedom to provide and receive services, including retail services, within the internal market. A targeted set of harmonised legal obligations should therefore be established at Union level to ensure contestable and fair digital markets featuring the presence of gatekeepers within the internal market to the benefit of the Union’s economy as a whole and ultimately of the Union’s consumers.
Fragmentation of the internal market can only effectively be averted if Member States are prevented from applying national rules which are within the scope of and pursue the same objectives as this Regulation. That does not preclude the possibility of applying to gatekeepers within the meaning of this Regulation other national rules which pursue other legitimate public interest objectives as set out in the TFEU or which pursue overriding reasons of public interest as recognised by the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union (‘the Court of Justice’).
At the same time, since this Regulation aims to complement the enforcement of competition law, it should apply without prejudice to Articles 101 and 102 TFEU, to the corresponding national competition rules and to other national competition rules regarding unilateral conduct that are based on an individualised assessment of market positions and behaviour, including its actual or potential effects and the precise scope of the prohibited behaviour, and which provide for the possibility of undertakings to make efficiency and objective justification arguments for the behaviour in question, and to national rules concerning merger control. However, the application of those rules should not affect the obligations imposed on gatekeepers under this Regulation and their uniform and effective application in the internal market.
Articles 101 and 102 TFEU and the corresponding national competition rules concerning anticompetitive multilateral and unilateral conduct as well as merger control have as their objective the protection of undistorted competition on the market. This Regulation pursues an objective that is complementary to, but different from that of protecting undistorted competition on any given market, as defined in competition-law terms, which is to ensure that markets where gatekeepers are present are and remain contestable and fair, independently from the actual, potential or presumed effects of the conduct of a given gatekeeper covered by this Regulation on competition on a given market. This Regulation therefore aims to protect a different legal interest from that protected by those rules and it should apply without prejudice to their application.
This Regulation should also apply without prejudice to the rules resulting from other acts of Union law regulating certain aspects of the provision of services covered by this Regulation, in particular Regulations (EU) 2016/679 (1) and (EU) 2019/1150 (2) of the European Parliament and of the Council and a Regulation on a single market for digital services, and Directives 2002/58/EC (3), 2005/29/EC (4), 2010/13/EU (5), (EU) 2015/2366 (6), (EU) 2019/790 (7) and (EU) 2019/882 (8) of the European Parliament and of the Council, and Council Directive 93/13/EEC (9), as well as national rules aimed at enforcing or implementing those Union legal acts.
(1) Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data, and repealing Directive 95/46/EC (General Data Protection Regulation) (OJ L 119, 4.5.2016, p. 1).
(2) Regulation (EU) 2019/1150 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 June 2019 on promoting fairness and transparency for business users of online intermediation services (OJ L 186, 11.7.2019, p. 57).
(3) Directive 2002/58/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 July 2002 concerning the processing of personal data and the protection of privacy in the electronic communications sector (OJ L 201, 31.7.2002, p. 37).
(4) Directive 2005/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 May 2005 concerning unfair business-to-consumer commercial practices in the internal market and amending Council Directive 84/450/EEC, Directives 97/7/EC, 98/27/EC and 2002/65/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council and Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council (‘Unfair Commercial Practices Directive’) (OJ L 149, 11.6.2005, p. 22).
(5) Directive 2010/13/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 10 March 2010 on the coordination of certain provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in Member States concerning the provision of audiovisual media services (Audiovisual Media Services Directive) (OJ L 95, 15.4.2010, p. 1).
(6) Directive (EU) 2015/2366 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2015 on payment services in the internal market, amending Directives 2002/65/EC, 2009/110/EC and 2013/36/EU and Regulation (EU) No 1093/2010, and repealing Directive 2007/64/EC (OJ L 337, 23.12.2015, p. 35).
(7) Directive (EU) 2019/790 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 April 2019 on copyright and related rights in the Digital Single Market and amending Directives 96/9/EC and 2001/29/EC (OJ L 130, 17.5.2019, p. 92).
(8) Directive (EU) 2019/882 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 April 2019 on the accessibility requirements for products and services (OJ L 151, 7.6.2019, p. 70).
(9) Council Directive 93/13/EEC of 5 April 1993 on unfair terms in consumer contracts (OJ L 95, 21.4.1993, p. 29).
To safeguard the contestability and fairness of core platform services provided by gatekeepers, it is necessary to provide in a clear and unambiguous manner for a set of harmonised rules with regard to those services. Such rules are needed to address the risk of harmful effects of practices by gatekeepers, to the benefit of the business environment in the services concerned, of users and ultimately of society as a whole. The obligations correspond to those practices that are considered as undermining contestability or as being unfair, or both, when taking into account the features of the digital sector and which have a particularly negative direct impact on business users and end users. It should be possible for the obligations laid down by this Regulation to specifically take into account the nature of the core platform services provided. The obligations in this Regulation should not only ensure contestability and fairness with respect to core platform services listed in the designation decision, but also with respect to other digital products and services into which gatekeepers leverage their gateway position, which are often provided together with, or in support of, the core platform services.
For the purpose of this Regulation, contestability should relate to the ability of undertakings to effectively overcome barriers to entry and expansion and challenge the gatekeeper on the merits of their products and services. The features of core platform services in the digital sector, such as network effects, strong economies of scale, and benefits from data have limited the contestability of those services and the related ecosystems. Such a weak contestability reduces the incentives to innovate and improve products and services for the gatekeeper, its business users, its challengers and customers and thus negatively affects the innovation potential of the wider online platform economy. Contestability of the services in the digital sector can also be limited if there is more than one gatekeeper for a core platform service. This Regulation should therefore ban certain practices by gatekeepers that are liable to increase barriers to entry or expansion, and impose certain obligations on gatekeepers that tend to lower those barriers. The obligations should also address situations where the position of the gatekeeper may be entrenched to such an extent that inter-platform competition is not effective in the short term, meaning that intra-platform competition needs to be created or increased.
For the purpose of this Regulation, unfairness should relate to an imbalance between the rights and obligations of business users where the gatekeeper obtains a disproportionate advantage. Market participants, including business users of core platform services and alternative providers of services provided together with, or in support of, such core platform services, should have the ability to adequately capture the benefits resulting from their innovative or other efforts. Due to their gateway position and superior bargaining power, it is possible that gatekeepers engage in behaviour that does not allow others to capture fully the benefits of their own contributions, and unilaterally set unbalanced conditions for the use of their core platform services or services provided together with, or in support of, their core platform services. Such imbalance is not excluded by the fact that the gatekeeper offers a particular service free of charge to a specific group of users, and may also consist in excluding or discriminating against business users, in particular if the latter compete with the services provided by the gatekeeper. This Regulation should therefore impose obligations on gatekeepers addressing such behaviour.
Contestability and fairness are intertwined. The lack of, or weak, contestability for a certain service can enable a gatekeeper to engage in unfair practices. Similarly, unfair practices by a gatekeeper can reduce the possibility of business users or others to contest the gatekeeper’s position. A particular obligation in this Regulation may, therefore, address both elements.