Vestager in Dublin: ‘Enforcement action will bring changes on the ground’

30 Sep 2022

Ibec CEO Danny McCoy and Margarethe Vestager in Dublin. Image: Maxwell Photography

On a visit to Dublin, EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager said its Silicon Docks ‘bristle with the energy of the global economy’.

Margrethe Vestager, the EU commissioner responsible for competition, stressed the need to enforce digital regulations at an event in Dublin today (30 September).

Speaking at an Ibec conference titled ‘Ireland as a leader in a strong, digital EU’, Vestager also praised Dublin’s Silicon Docks, where many global tech giants have their European headquarters, saying it “bristles with the energy of the global economy”.

Vestager’s visit to Dublin coincides with the 50th anniversary of both Ireland and her native Denmark voting to join the EU, as she pointed out in a tweet ahead of her keynote address.

‘Expectations are high that Europe delivers the needed changes in how digital platforms operate’

As well as praise for the Silicon Docks, the EU commissioner also commended Ireland’s plans to spend €64m on connectivity and equipment for disadvantaged learners in schools.

“Bridging the digital divide by investing in next-generation skills is more than just good social policy. Because when we help everyone reach their full potential, those learners and workers will grow and blossom. And we will get a bigger digital harvest,” she said.

However, Vestager noted that while this kind of investment in digitalisation is essential, investments alone are not enough. “It is our enforcement action that will bring changes on the ground,” she said.

“Europe’s social market economy only works because we create well-regulated structures for our markets to operate in. We plan our garden plots rather carefully, with a rules-based framework and sensible regulatory choices.

“In this way, we create the legal certainty businesses need. And we defend the interests of European households.”

Digital regulations

Vestager gave the example of the Digital Services Act, a landmark piece of EU legislation that demands tech companies take control of content moderation.

“People must feel safe in the purchases they make and in the content they choose to access. That means imposing certain obligations on digital service providers – especially large online platforms,” she went on.

“They must take responsibility when it comes to traceability of sellers, the safety of products sold and the content they choose to put on their platforms – but also the content they choose to remove.”

Vestager also stressed the importance of ensuring a level playing field online through regulations such as the Digital Markets Act, which gives the European Commission “new powers to act against harmful practices like certain forms of self-preferencing”.

“The goal is to make sure that businesses relying on gatekeeper platforms to access their customers can do so on fair terms,” she said.

Both the Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Act were passed by the European Parliament in a landslide vote in July and are expected to come into force soon.

“Expectations are high that Europe delivers the needed changes in how digital platforms operate,” the commissioner said.

Vestager also mentioned newly proposed EU rules around artificial intelligence with plans to rein in ‘high-risk’ AI and introduce AI product liability, as well as cybersecurity through the Cyber Resilience Act published earlier this month.

“10 years ago, our data protection laws set the standard internationally. Now, our digital regulations will become a ‘gold standard’ across the world.”

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic