Federal Minister Altmaier welcomes new European rules on Big Tech

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The European Commission today submitted a proposal for the Digital Markets Act, which comprises new rules for large digital companies in order to guarantee competition on digital markets.

Federal Minister Peter Altmaier said: “In summer 2019, I launched an initiative together with my French and Polish counterparts to modernise European competition law. I am pleased that the European Commission has taken up these proposals and put forward for discussion new rules for digital markets during Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the EU. In Germany, we have already embarked on this path. The ARC Digitisation Act comprises the first clear provisions in competition law for large platforms relating to digital matters. They will make sure that fair competition will be guaranteed also on digital markets to the benefit of consumers and enterprises.”

Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier, French Economy and Finance Minister Bruno le Maire and Poland’s Minister of Entrepreneurship and Technology, Ms Jadwiga Emilewicz, had signed a joint paper (PDF, 312 KB) on 4 July 2019. In order to improve competition on digital markets, they had proposed to identify essential players, including digital platforms, which will be subject to specific supervision. The European Commission has now taken up this proposal in the Digital Markets Act. The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy will examine the Commission’s proposal, which was published today, and play a constructive role in the forthcoming legislative procedure at European level.

At national level, the Economic Affairs Ministry has played a pioneering role by submitting the ARC (Act against Restraints of Competition) Digitisation Act (available here (in German)). The law is currently passing through the parliamentary procedure. It is to create a modern and effective competition law covering digital matters. It comprises in particular specific conduct obligations for platform companies with an overriding cross-market impact. In the future, the Bundeskartellamt (Federal Cartel Office) will be able to prohibit such companies from preferring their own products or making the interoperability of products more difficult. The deliberations in the German Bundestag are expected to be concluded this week. The law would then enter into force at the beginning of 2021, and the Bundeskartellamt would be able to become active.

In contrast, the conclusion of the legislative procedure at EU level will take quite some time. During the negotiations, the German Federal Government will work to ensure that national and European rules will complement each other well. It is only possible to guarantee an innovation-friendly platform environment which ensures competition if we pull in the same direction.