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Digital Economy

Regulation - DMA and Section 19a

In recent years, the European Commission and national governments have reacted to the growing market power of Big Tech companies by adopting regulatory tools to deal with competition problems.

At EU level, the Digital Markets Act (DMA) was adopted in 2022 and became applicable in May 2023. The DMA gives the Commission the power to designate large digital companies as “gatekeepers” if they reach certain thresholds and if they provide a “core platform services”. If a company is named gatekeeper, it has to comply with the obligations of the DMA, that include prohibitions of certain practices and requirements to provide access and interoperability, among others.

In September 2023, the Commission announced that Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, Microsoft and TikTok were designated as gatekeepers and would have to comply with the rules by March 2024.

In Germany, the government introduced “Section 19a” to the national competition act. This amendment entered into force in January 2021. Under Section 19a, the Federal Cartel Office (FCO) can prohibit certain types of conduct by companies which, due to their strategic position and their resources, are of “paramount significance for competition across markets”.

The Federal Cartel Office (FCO) has already concluded that Google, Meta, Amazon and Apple hold paramount significance for competition across markets, and has also started investigating if Microsoft holds such a position.

These developments are likely to continue and will play an important role in EU competition policy in the next years.

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