European Commission designates six gatekeepers under the Digital Markets Act

September 8, 2023

The European Commission has designated six gatekeepers: Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, ByteDance, Meta and Microsoft under the Digital Markets Act. In total, 22 core platform services provided by gatekeepers have been designated. The six gatekeepers will now have six months to ensure full compliance with the DMA obligations for each of their designated core platform services.

Under the DMA, the European Commission can designate digital platforms as gatekeepers if they provide an important gateway between businesses and consumers in relation to core platform services.

In parallel, the Commission has opened four market investigations to further assess Microsoft’s and Apple’s arguments that, despite meeting the thresholds, some of their core platform services do not qualify as gateways:

  • Microsoft: Bing, Edge and Microsoft Advertising
  • Apple: iMessage

These investigations aim to determine if a sufficiently substantiated rebuttal presented by the companies demonstrate that services in question should not be designated. The investigation should be completed within a maximum of five months.

In addition, the Commission has concluded that, although Gmail, and Samsung Internet Browser meet the thresholds under the DMA to qualify as a gatekeeper. Alphabet, Microsoft and Samsung provided sufficiently justified arguments showing that these services do not qualify as gateways for the respective core platform services. Therefore, the Commission has decided not to designate Gmail, and Samsung Internet Browsers as core platform services. Samsung is not designated as gatekeeper with respect to any core platform service.

Next steps for designated gatekeepers

Following their designation, gatekeepers now have six months to comply with the full list of do’s and don’ts under the DMA. However, some of the obligations under the DMA apply from designation, for example, the obligation to inform the Commission of any intended concentration. The designated companies must ensure and demonstrate effective compliance and have six months to submit a detailed compliance report about how they comply with each of the obligations of the DMA.

The Commission will monitor the effective implementation of and compliance with these obligations. In case a gatekeeper does not comply with the obligations in the DMA, the Commission can impose fines up to 10% of the company’s total worldwide turnover, which can increase to 20% if there are repeated infringements. If there are systematic infringements, the Commission may adopt additional remedies such as obliging a gatekeeper to sell a business or parts of it or banning the gatekeeper from acquisitions of additional services related to the systemic non-compliance.

In the future, additional companies could submit notifications to the Commission under the DMA, based on their self-assessment with respect to the relevant thresholds.