German minister: EU must apply DMA, DSA and competition law to Twitter!

I’m waiting for a Mastodon bot which will roll up and translate Twitter threads. Until one arrives, I’ve manually used ThreadReader and DeepL to produce this translation of this morning’s call by German economics minister Sven Giegold.

The EU must put Twitter under direct supervision of the European Commission! I have written to the relevant Commissioners Margrethe Vestager and Thierry Breton today asking them to do so. This can stop the anti-competitive behaviour of Elon Musk on Twitter.

Sven Giegold

Under the EU’s new Digital Markets Act (DMA), the European Commission will take over direct supervision of major digital platforms such as Facebook and Google. This means that in future it can ensure fair competition in digital markets with its own staff and strong powers.

However, Twitter is not yet classified as a dominant digital platform, partly because the company’s turnover is still too small. Nevertheless, Twitter exerts great influence on the shaping of public opinion worldwide and also in Europe.

Terms and conditions that change almost hourly, erratic justifications for far-reaching restrictions on linking and blocking of journalists threaten freedom of competition and pose a risk to freedom of expression, information and the press.

With the Digital Markets Act and competition law, the EU has sharp swords against abusive behaviour by market-dominating companies. Twitter has recently demonstrated that we need close monitoring and vigorous enforcement of the applicable rules.

So far, despite its special importance as “the de facto digital town square” (@elonmusk), Twitter has not been designated as a gatekeeper in the sense of the DMA. As a result, there is also no direct competition policy supervision by the EU Commission under the DMA.

As State Secretary responsible for competition policy in the @BMWK, I call on the European Commission to take action without delay:

1️⃣ The EU Commission should therefore launch a market investigation (under Article 3(8) in conjunction with Article 17 DMA) as soon as possible to designate Twitter as a gatekeeper under the DMA.
2️⃣ Furthermore, I would encourage the Commission to consider initiating proceedings under Article 102 TFEU should Twitter again hinder competition by permanently and systematically prohibiting links to other social media platforms.
3️⃣ In perspective, the Digital Services Act (DSA) and in particular Article 14 DSA is also an important instrument to prevent arbitrary deplatforming.

Once the regulations are applicable from February 2024, it must be ensured that Twitter complies with the relevant requirements and that it designs and applies the T&Cs in an objective manner that respects users’ fundamental rights.

The EU should use all means at its disposal to protect competition and freedom of expression on digital platforms. Europe has rules that defend fair competition and our fundamental values such as freedom of the press and the rule of law.

A consistent competition policy is one of the hallmarks of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection @BMWK under Robert . We work on this every day with our officials and in close contact with the independent @Kartellamt.