“Stuck in the middle with you”, the case for keeping illiberal Hungary and Poland within the EU (for now)

Kees Cath

Poland and Hungary’s threatening to block the EU budget because of the link between the Multi-Annual Financial Framework (MFF) and the rule of law, in combination with their continued undermining of the rule of law domestically has led to a debate on whether these countries should remain in the EU. In this post PhD student Kees Cath argues that working towards expulsion would not be appropriate at this point.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own point of view.

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Reflection on the GDS webinar by Sandra Wachter: ‘The (im)possibility of algorithmic fairness’

Machiko Kanetake, Lucky Belder and Karin van Es

© iStockphoto.com/PayPau

What regulatory frameworks does the EU have to detect and rectify biased algorithms? Unfortunately, some of the celebrated legal frameworks in the EU on data protection and non-discrimination do not seem to be fit for purpose in the age of automated decision-making, as Sandra Wachter elucidated in her Utrecht University webinar on 26 January 2021 hosted by the Special Interest Group ‘Principles by Design: Towards Good Data Practice’.

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DMA: a step forward in ensuring swift intervention in the digital sector but flexibility is key

Carla Farinhas

This blogpost is part of a series of short commentaries on the European Commission’s proposals for a Digital Markets Act and a Digital Services Act, released on 15 December 2020. Stay tuned for more.

Competition law enforcement takes too long

The Commission has heavily fined large technology companies for breach of competition rules in recent years. However, it is common ground that the protection of competition in the digital sector is at risk. There are gaps in the existing rules, but one of the main difficulties is the fast-changing pace of digital markets which is at odds with the time it takes to complete case-by-case full-fledged investigations.

Cases that take years to decide risk being all for naught if the practices harm competition in an irreparable manner while the investigation is ongoing. However, streamlining investigations in the digital sector is not easy. Cases tend to raise new and complex issues and the authorities always need to gather solid evidence to prove that the rules have been breached and follow due process.

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Solidarity during the Covid-19 crisis within the European Union – a legal principle or just a pivotal political aspiration?

Anne Joppe

The principle of solidarity is called upon mostly in times of crisis, as happened, for example, during the Eurozone crisis and the refugee crisis. During the current crisis as a consequence of the Covid-19 outbreak, the EU calls again for solidarity among the Member States to combat the pandemic. Global solidarity is mentioned also as a sort of founding value of the EU vaccines strategy.

Nevertheless, it is unclear what the principle actually entails. The situation after the Covid-19 outbreak allows to investigate whether there is indeed a legal value or notion of European solidarity that can be enforced, whilst we also see national reflexes of protecting the own citizens and market in times of crisis. The latter seems to prevail in the dispute between the EU and the UK about the AstraZeneca vaccine, for instance. Where the EU calls on a fair and ‘solidary’ distribution of the vaccines throughout Europe, the UK seems to prioritise its own programme and wants the company to favour the UK, even though that might threaten the relationship with the EU.

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Setting the dark on fire

Viktorija Morozovaite

This blogpost is part of a series of short commentaries on the European Commission’s proposals for a Digital Markets Act and a Digital Services Act, released on 15 December 2020. Stay tuned for more.

Digital advertising has become the bread and butter for digital platforms providing content and services online. The highly anticipated DMA and DSA proposals include provisions that jointly tackle issues that surfaced in these opaque markets. The overarching goals are far-reaching with rules aimed to curb structural market concerns caused by gatekeeping platforms and to strengthen online users’ rights. When it comes to advertising-specific rules, the overarching theme in both documents is transparency.

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‘If the product is free, you are the product’ – A vision of humanity in the Digital Services and Digital Markets Acts

Pauline Phoa

This blogpost is part of a series of short commentaries on the European Commission’s proposals for a Digital Markets Act and a Digital Services Act, released on 15 December 2020. Stay tuned for more.

Is the EU’s regime, including the Commission’s recent proposals in form of the DSA and DMA, fit to face the demands of our era of Big Tech and ‘big data’? I think the challenges posed by new technological developments necessitate a rethinking of the foundations of the regulatory system.

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The DSA and future enforcement of EU consumer protection law

Bram Duivenvoorde

This blogpost is part of a series of short commentaries on the European Commission’s proposals for a Digital Markets Act and a Digital Services Act, released on 15 December 2020. Stay tuned for more.

On 15 December 2020, the draft Digital Services Act (DSA) was published by the European Commission. The DSA will regulate digital services that act as intermediaries, connecting consumers with goods, services and content. Amongst other goals, the DSA aims to provide better protection to consumers online and should lead to a fairer digital market. What will the DSA mean for the future enforcement of consumer protection law through and against platforms? These are my initial thoughts on this topic.

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The New Pact on Migration and Asylum: a paradigm shift in regulation and enforcement?

Salvatore Nicolosi and Paul Minderhoud

Last September 2020, the European Commission unveiled the New Pact on Migration and Asylum to commit the EU and its Member States ‘to build a system that manages and normalises migration for the long term.’ A fierce criticism has been already raised by scholars and civil society, claiming that this political platform is all but new and definitely unfit for the ‘fresh start’ sought by the Commission. In an attempt to contribute to this thriving debate, this post raises doubts on whether the Pact constitutes an effective paradigm shift in regulation and enforcement for EU asylum and migration law. As will be illustrated, the Pact reflects a regulatory framework that does not fix the existing divergences between the Member States, while at the enforcement level the approach is still precarious both as to the role of EU agencies and a strategy to ensure Member States compliance.

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Contestability in the digital sector: the Digital Markets Act vs. disruptive innovation

Lisanne Hummel

This blogpost is part of a series of short commentaries on the European Commission’s proposals for a Digital Markets Act and a Digital Services Act, released on 15 December 2020. Stay tuned for more.

With the Digital Markets Act (DMA) the Commission wants to ensure a contestable digital sector, where the threat of new companies entering the sector keeps the existing firms’ market power in check. The DMA aims to increase the threat of new companies by imposing certain obligations on gatekeepers, who will most likely be the big tech companies: Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft. However, these big tech companies strongly believe that it is not regulation but innovation that has kept the digital sector contestable and will continue to do so. The question is, will the DMA make the digital sector more contestable or should we keep relying on innovation?

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DSA, DMA and ‘Access to…’

Laura Frederika Lalíková

This blogpost is part of a series of short commentaries on the European Commission’s proposals for a Digital Markets Act and a Digital Services Act, released on 15 December 2020. Stay tuned for more.

Being a fan of British comedy, I’d like to quote James Veitch (who is best known for his witty interactions with the authors of scam emails): “The Internet gave us access to everything; but it also gave everything access to us.” This struck a chord with me, as I realized that the question of access has left the tables of social sciences and legal scholars and entered the likes of comedy clubs, signifying the importance of the currency of the topic of access in digital space. People understand access. They might not understand the intricacies of it, but they understand it on a fundamental level  – the value of access and the benefits which derive from it. And we should strive to protect it.

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