The European Commission's policy fosters a trusting, lawful and innovation-driven environment for online platforms in the EU. The Commission identified key areas of interest in its Communication on Online Platforms. The guiding policy principles are:
- create a level playing field for comparable digital services;
- ensure responsible behaviour of online platforms to protect core values;
- foster trust, transparency and ensure fairness on online platforms;
- keep markets open and non-discriminatory to foster a data-driven economy.
The Digital Services Act
The Commission has adopted a proposal for a Digital Services Act (DSA). Together with a Digital Markets Act, this proposal will create a safer and more open digital space for all users and ensure a level playing field for businesses.
The DSA has three specific goals:
- to protect consumers and their fundamental rights online more effectively;
- to establish a powerful transparency and accountability framework for online platforms;
- to foster innovation, growth and competitiveness within the single market.
EU Regulation on fairness and transparency in online platform-to-business relationships
The Regulation on online platform-to-business relationships puts in place a harmonised framework for minimum transparency and redress rights. It protects companies that depend on online platforms for reaching consumers, while safeguarding the innovation potential of platforms.
The EU Observatory on the Online Platform Economy accompanies the new rules. The Observatory monitors and analyses the latest trends and issues in the online platform economy. Businesses using online platforms can help identify the main issues by sharing experiences through a dedicated website.
Recommendation on measures to effectively tackle illegal content online
The Commission issued a Recommendation on measures to effectively tackle illegal content online in March 2018. This builds on the Communication on tackling illegal content online of September 2017, and translates the political commitment of the Communication into a (non-binding) legal form.
At the request of the European Parliament, the Commission is carrying out an in-depth analysis of algorithmic transparency and accountability. The pilot project will provide an in-depth study of the role of algorithms in the digital economy and society. In particular, it will study how they shape, filter and personalise information flows.
What are online platforms and why are they important
Online platforms are strong drivers of innovation and play an important role in Europe's digital society and economy. They increase consumer choice, improve efficiency and competitiveness of industry and can enhance civil participation in society.
Online platforms cover a wide range of websites and apps including online marketplaces, social media, creative content outlets, app stores, price comparison websites, platforms for the collaborative economy as well as search engines.
Online platforms share key characteristics. These include the use of information and communication technologies to facilitate interactions between users, the collection and use of data about such interactions, and network effects. These network effects make use of platforms who have the highest number of users that are most valuable to other users.
Today, 1 million EU businesses are already selling goods and services through online platforms. More than 50% of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) selling through online marketplaces sell across borders. The European Business-to-Consumer (B2C) e-commerce turnover was forecasted to reach around €602 billion in 2017, with a growth rate of nearly 14%.