OPP Meeting Summary: EP IMCO Committee – Promoting fairness and transparency for business users of online intermediation services (5 November 2018)

A summary of the Committee’s consideration of the amendments is now available.

EP IMCO Committee Meeting – 5 November 2018
Promoting fairness and transparency for business users of online intermediation services
–Consideration of amendments
View related documents and the next stage of the procedure in the Policy Pipeline 

Rapporteur Christel Schaldemose (S&D, DK) made the following opening remarks:

  • over 600 amendments had been submitted. One meeting of the Shadow Rapporteurs had taken place on the political level, and one on the technical;
  • she hoped that the vote in December would be able to take into account the amendments submitted by the EP JURI Committee, as it was an associated Committee. She was also hopeful that informal trilogue meetings could take place before Christmas;
  • from the Shadows meeting it had become clear that compromises would need to be found on several issues including ranking. The need for transparency was clear but there were different approaches. She wanted a balanced approach that would ensure transparency across the board;
  • another issue that needed discussion was whether operating systems should be included in the scope. She stated that if it is included in the scope, the application should not become “too unwieldy”;
  • discussions had also taken place on unequal treatment of business operators who used the platforms and many amendments addressed this. It was important to avoid the emergence of unfair trading practices, and there was agreement across the political groups that the issue should be addressed.

Shadow Rapporteurs

Philipe Juvin (EPP, FR)

  • he thanked the Rapporteur for the quality of her draft report and stated that it was an excellent basis for negotiations;
  • operating systems were essential for the functioning of app stores. It was a complicated but a major issue, and the Commission had not given the Parliament any reason why operating systems should not be included in the scope;
  • a possible blacklist of banned practices was complicated. He did not want to hamper innovation;
  • his group had proposed a possible list of unfair trading practices, which could be placed in an Annex as it could be reviewed and updated in an Annex more easily than in the main body of the text.

 Dan Dalton (ECR, UK)

  • he stressed that this proposal addressed business-to-business (B2B) relationships, not business-to-consumer (B2C);
  • his group had submitted amendments clarifying the Commission’s proposal and make it more representative of the different sizes of online platforms and business users;
  • the drive for transparency should not undermine business secrets;
  • his group was also keen to protect the ability of platforms to take down content that is harmful. A 15 day notice period in these cases was not appropriate;
  • he stressed that platforms were a business, not a public service. Some of the provisions in the text did not recognise the power of larger businesses in relation to smaller businesses;
  • mandatory mediation was also not appropriate, nor compatible with national law in some Member States;
  • regarding Article 8, his group did not see reason why parity clauses should be banned;
  • regarding Article 12 on redress, his group had introduced provisions on preventing abuses from unqualified entities which might have interests other than those of the business user. A reasonable amount of time also needed to pass before a review could take place;
  • on the issue of the inclusion of operating systems, he stated that he did not understand the reasoning behind the claims that operating systems could evade the rules. The repercussions could be wide.

Jasenko Selimovic (ALDE, SE) read out a statement on behalf of Dita Charanzova (ALDE, CZ)

  • her group could not support the majority of the amendments tabled. It appeared that some Members had taken the opportunity to make political points, rather than ensure further transparency;
  • for example, some amendments wanted to include any device with an operating system in the scope. In practice, this meant that any device with an electronic chip would fall under the scope of the legislation;
  • even if operating systems were an issue, they did not belong to the scope of this proposal;
  • she stressed that the proposal was supposed to address contractual relationships;
  • regarding the scope, it was important to remember that EU law could not, and should not, apply to every website in the world. Her group believed that the scope of the proposal should match the scope of the Rome I and Brussels I Regulations;
  • the inclusion of a blacklist was not acceptable for her group. She did not understand why Members who had fought against a blacklist in the unfair trading practices proposal now wanted to include it in this proposal. Online marketplaces were not supermarkets, and goods did not go bad;
  • the unfair trading practices proposal was aimed at farmers. Her group of course supported farmers, but did not know of any farmers who would lose their business over a platform;
  • regarding Article 12, her group could support the amendments on collective redress;
  • on the online platform observatory, she stated that her group would prefer to maintain the original proposal from the Commission. She understood that the Rapporteur did not wish to create a precedent, but the observatory could be used as a stepping stone for EU legislation on e-commerce;
  • although some amendments “might seem interesting”, it was important to adopt a text that could pass through Parliament and the trilogues to become law.

Julia Reda (Greens/EFA, DE)

  • it was obvious that the opinions on the proposal were going in different directions. Her group believed that the draft report from the Rapporteur had been balanced, and she hoped that some of the group’s amendments could continue finding a middle ground;
  • her group had submitted amendments regarding transparency provisions on abusive notices. Business should not be able to use reporting mechanisms to act against their competitors;
  • regarding the scope, her group had submitted amendments to include voice assistance and in general to ensure that the scope was technologically neutral;
  • on operating systems, she believed that there was an issue there but it was not developed well enough in the submitted amendments, for example in cases where the operating system was directly connected to the platform. Operating systems should be either put in a review clause or addressed in the proposal on a limited scale;
  • a “full-on blacklist” was premature.

Dennis de Jong (GUE/NGL, NL)

  • he agreed with Julia Reda (Greens/EFA, DE) that there were many diverging views. He was of the opinion that broad scope was necessary, including operating systems;
  • he was in favour of an indicative blacklist. It should not be too exhaustive, but it would be helpful to give the Regulation meaning.

A representative from the European Commission made the following remarks:

  • he stressed the need for the Regulation to be targeted and clear in order to make an impact.

Rapporteur Christel Schaldemose (S&D, DK) made the following closing remarks:

  • she wanted to include all of the political groups in the compromises, and she was sure that good compromises would be found.

Source: One Policy Place

The simultaneous interpretation of debates provided by the EU institutions serves only to facilitate communication amongst the participants in the meeting. It does not constitute an authentic record of proceedings. One Policy Place uses these translations so this text is only a guide and should not be relied on as an official account of the meeting. Only the original speech or the revised written translation of that speech is authentic.

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