Skip to main content
Shaping Europe’s digital future logo

Online Platforms

The European Commission wants online platforms to thrive, and users to be treated fairly and be protected against illegal content.

CC0

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:

  1. create a level playing field for comparable digital services;
  2. ensure responsible behaviour of online platforms to protect core values;
  3. foster trust, transparency and ensure fairness on online platforms;
  4. 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: 

  1. to protect consumers and their fundamental rights online more effectively;
  2. to establish a powerful transparency and accountability framework for online platforms;
  3. 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.

Algorithmic transparency

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%.

Latest

Final reports of the EU Observatory on the online platform economy

The EU Observatory for the Online Platform Economy, which informs the policy work of the Commission, by providing independent views on some of the key questions that have arisen in connection to the platform economy is today publishing the final reports from the expert group following stakeholder feedback and reactions on the progress reports which were published for consultation in July 2020.

European Commission publishes ranking guidelines under the P2B Regulation to increase transparency of online search results

The Commission is publishing guidelines for online platforms on how to improve the transparency of their ranking parameters. Today, algorithmic ranking determines visibility online, which is crucial to the success of millions of businesses, especially as the current pandemic has moved more business activities online. The guidelines complement the ranking transparency requirements under the EU Platform-to-Business Regulation (P2B) and are the first of their kind globally.

New EU rules and guidance for a fairer online economy

The Commission publishes today a set of resources to help traders, online platforms and search engines get the most out of the new Platform to Business rules, which apply from this Sunday, 12 July. In addition, three progress reports prepared by the expert group for the Observatory on the Online Platform Economy are published for feedback. The reports will inform the broader work of the Commission on online platforms and in particular on the upcoming Digital Services Act package.

Related Content

Big Picture

Online Platforms and eCommerce

The European Commission is committed to fostering an environment in which online platforms can thrive and where users are treated fairly.

Dig deeper

Geo-blocking

Geographically based restrictions undermine online shopping and cross-border sales in the Digital Single Market. The Commission put an end to unjustified geo-blocking rules, which apply since 3 December 2018.

See Also

e-Commerce rules in the EU

The European Commission breaks down online barriers so that people can enjoy full access to all goods and services offered online by businesses in the EU.

The Digital Services Act package

The Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act encompass a single set of new rules applicable across the whole EU to create a safer and more open digital space.