European Parliament resolution on supporting consumer rights in the digital single market (2014/2973(RSP))

On November 27, 2014, the European Parliament passed a resolution of 27 November 2014 “on supporting consumer rights in the digital single market” (2014/2973(RSP)).

The resolution, which is not binding, contains several points (26 points to be precise), among which:

– “Calls on the Member States and the Commission, … to address all existing barriers that are hindering the development of the digital single market”

– “While welcoming the growth of e-commerce, notes the dominant position in some Member States of only a few actors in the direct sale of physical goods or as a market-based platform for others to sell physical goods; stresses the need at European level to monitor and prevent the abuse of such dominant positions”

– ” Calls for the swift adoption of the new modernised Data Protection Package …; calls on the Commission and the Member States to allocate the necessary resources to fight cybercrime …”

– “Stresses the need to ensure a level playing field for companies operating in the digital single market in order for them to be able to compete; calls, therefore, on the Commission to properly enforce EU competition rules in order to prevent excessive market concentration and abuse of dominant position and to monitor competition with regard to bundled content and services;”

-“Urges the Council to make swift progress and open negotiations with Parliament on the proposal for a regulation laying down measures concerning the European single market for electronic communications and to achieve a Connected Continent ..”

-“Stresses that all internet traffic should be treated equally, without discrimination, restriction or interference, irrespective of its sender, receiver, type, content, device, service or application”

The Resolution also deals with the protection of copyright and intellectual property rights, with access of disabled users, with the Marrakesh Treaty on books for visually impaired, on secure online and mobile payments market, with international standards and specifications for cloud computing, etcetera.

A lot of attention has been placed by press on 4 of the 26 points (points 15 -18), where the Resolution deals with search engines – those points have been read as a direct attack to Google.

We quote those in full:

“15.  Notes that the online search market is of particular importance in ensuring competitive conditions within the digital single market, given the potential development of search engines into gatekeepers and the possibility they have of commercialising secondary exploitation of information obtained; calls, therefore, on the Commission to enforce EU competition rules decisively, based on input from all relevant stakeholders and taking into account the entire structure of the digital single market in order to ensure remedies that truly benefit consumers, internet users and online businesses; calls, furthermore, on the Commission to consider proposals aimed at unbundling search engines from other commercial services as one potential long-term means of achieving the aforementioned aims;

16.  Furthermore calls on the Commission to act quickly to consider potential solutions tending towards a balanced, fair and open internet search structure;

17.  Stresses that, when operating search engines for users, the search process and results should be unbiased in order to keep internet searches non-discriminatory, to ensure more competition and choice for users and consumers and to maintain the diversity of sources of information; notes, therefore, that indexation, evaluation, presentation and ranking by search engines must be unbiased and transparent; calls on the Commission to prevent any abuse in the marketing of interlinked services by search engine operators;

18.  Welcomes the announcement of further investigations by the Commission into search engine practices and the digital market in general;”

Read the full text

For information: Francesca Giannoni-Crystal


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