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Shaping Europe’s digital future

The Digital Services Act package

The Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act aim to create a safer digital space where the fundamental rights of users are protected and to establish a level playing field for businesses.

CC0 - Europe Fit for the Digital Age: New rules for digital platforms

The Digital Services Act (DSA) and the Digital Market Act (DMA) form a single set of rules that apply across the whole EU. They have two main goals:

  1. to create a safer digital space in which the fundamental rights of all users of digital services are protected;
  2. to establish a level playing field to foster innovation, growth, and competitiveness, both in the European Single Market and globally.

What are digital services?

Digital services include a large category of online services, from simple websites to internet infrastructure services and online platforms.

The rules specified in the DSA primarily concern online intermediaries and platforms. For example, online marketplaces, social networks, content-sharing platforms, app stores, and online travel and accommodation platforms.

The Digital Markets Act includes rules that govern gatekeeper online platforms. Gatekeeper platforms are digital platforms with a systemic role in the internal market that function as bottlenecks between businesses and consumers for important digital services. Some of these services are also covered in the Digital Services Act, but for different reasons and with different types of provisions.

Why are the DSA and DMA necessary?

Digital services impact and make our lives easier in many different ways. We use them to communicate with each other, shop, order food, find information, see films and listen to music through new, constantly evolving services . Digital services have also made it easier for companies to trade across borders and access new markets.  

While there are many benefits of the digital transformation, there are also problems. A core concern is the trade and exchange of illegal goods, services and content online. Online services are also being misused by manipulative algorithmic systems to amplify the spread of disinformation, and for other harmful purposes. These challenges and the way platforms address them have a significant impact on fundamental rights online.

Despite a range of targeted, sector-specific interventions at EU level, there were still significant gaps and legal burdens to address in the beginning of the 2020s. For example some large platforms control important ecosystems in the digital economy. They have emerged as gatekeepers in digital markets, with the power to act as private rule-makers. These rules sometimes result in unfair conditions for businesses using these platforms and less choice for consumers.

Therefore, the European Union has adopted a modern legal framework that ensures the safety of users online, establishes governance with the protection of fundamental rights at its forefront, and maintains fair and open online platform environment.

Next Steps

Following the adoption of the Digital Services Package in the first reading by the European Parliament in July 2022, both the Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act have been adopted by the Council of the European Union, signed by the Presidents of both institutions and published in the Official Journal. 

The DSA has been published in the Official Journal as of 27 October 2022 and came into force on 16 November 2022. The DSA will be directly applicable across the EU and will apply fifteen months or from 1 January 2024, whichever comes later, after entry into force.

For online platforms, they must publish their number of active users by 17 February 2023. If the platform or a search engine has more than 45 million users (10% of the population in Europe), the Commission will designate the service as a very large online platform or a very large online search engine. These services will have 4 months to comply with the obligations of the DSA, which includes carrying out and providing the Commission with their first annual risk assessment. EU Member States will have to appoint Digital Services Coordinators by 17 February 2024, when also platforms with less than 45 million active users have to comply with all the DSA rules.

Visual showing timeline of Digital Service Act

As of 12 October 2022, the DMA was published in the Official Journal and entered into force on 1 November 2022. Before 3 July 2023, companies have to provide the Commission with information about their number of users so that the Commission can designate “gatekeepers” before 6 September. Gatekeepers will then have until March 2024 to ensure that they follow the obligations of the DMA.

Visual showing timeline of Digital Markets Act

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