Europe Announces New Regulations for Digital Markets, Services

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2016-05-25 Print this article Print
Digital Regulations

The EC also is promoting an open market and free data flow initiative that the EC announcement says will facilitate moving data between online platforms and cloud computing services.

Finally, in its announcement, the EC said it was working to adopt a fair and innovation-friendly business environment. "The Commission will carry out a fact-finding exercise into issues raised in the public consultation by businesses and suppliers who directly interact with platforms," the announcement said. "These include, for example, concerns over unfair terms and conditions, in particular for access to important databases, market access and general lack of transparency."

The platforms referred to by the EC essentially are all sorts of online commerce data and services. And while they're not mentioned specifically by name, they appear to include everything from Amazon to credit bureaus. This could be an opportunity for U.S. companies to engage European customers and business in a wider manner than they do today, although the final form of any such action by the EC remains unclear as well.

What is clear is that U.S. businesses will have a significant period of uncertainty in dealing with Europe. For the next year or so, regulations will be the subject of hearings and compromises with little indication of how things finally will fall out. Much of the uncertainty seems to be based on what the EC views as an attempt to take the future of ecommerce and the digital marketplace into account before implementing new regulations.

"The EU believes that it can be both comprehensive and incremental in its DSMS. This approach may be too ambi­tious and too minimal in its impact. Given the rapid development of continuing the digital marketplace, the EU's commitment to 'future proofing' seems likely to continue as an elusive goal," the Brookings study concludes.

"Perhaps a better approach would be for the EC to develop aspirational goals and metrics that can help the EU and its member states assess the effectiveness of policies based on the DSMS."

Brotman points out in his study that the business of technology does not proceed at the slow and deliberate pace currently in use in Europe, but instead uses an entirely different approach of fast development and, sometimes, fast failing. But, he noted, this doesn't seem to be something the EC is prepared to do.

"The DSMS illustrates that the EU is not yet ready to move in this direction. It seems committed to emphasizing top-down government control in shaping the future of the digital marketplace in Europe," Brotman wrote.

"On balance, the better approach of a DSMS may be a recognition that digital policymaking needs to operate in a more digital context—always evolving, never certain, and ready to change direction whenever significant shifts in marketplace supply and demand forces occur."


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