Booking latest to fall under EU market power rules has been designated a gatekeeper under the bloc’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), meaning the online travel agency will face regulation under the bloc’s market fairness and contestability framework — with the risk of major fines (of up to 10% or even 20%) for non-compliance.

The travel platform has been given six months to comply with the bulk of the DMA’s requirements, including up-front rules for designated platforms such as FRAND T&Cs for business users and a ban on self preferencing. Some rules are immediately applicable, though — such as a requirement to inform the EU of planned acquisitions.

The Commission said it expects the designation to boost choice for holidaymakers. Commenting in a statement, EVP and competition chief, Margrethe Vestager, suggested: “Holidaymakers will start benefiting from more choice and hotels will have more business opportunities.”

Booking is the seventh gatekeeper to become subject to the regime, joining Alphabet, Apple, Amazon, ByteDance, Meta and Microsoft which were designated last September. The EU has since opened non-compliance investigations into aspects of Alphabet, Apple and Meta’s compliance proposals.

Booking’s intermediating platform was not included in the first wave of DMA designations as a result of the pandemic’s impact on its travel business, which meant it did not meet the quantitative thresholds at that point — but last summer it told us it had been expecting that to change by the end of the year.

The DMA requires tech giants to notify the Commission when they cross the threshold of 45M monthly active users and 10,000+ yearly active business users. Booking did so on March 1, triggering a review process by the Commission — culminating in today’s designation decision.

In a press release, the EU said the review has established that Booking’s “core platform service constitutes an important gateway between businesses and consumers”.

Reached for comment, a Booking spokesperson said: “We have been working with the European Commission for some time as we anticipated today’s decision. We are reviewing their designation decision now and will continue to work constructively with them as we develop solutions to comply.”

Also today the Commission announced that it has decided against designating the ads platforms of social networking sites TikTok and X as DMA core platform services — deciding neither is an important gateway.

However the EU has opened an investigation into whether X’s social networking platform should be designated. The Elon Musk-owned company recently notified the Commission that it passes the DMA’s usage thresholds but has argued it should not be subject to the regulation. The Commission said today that it will further consider X’s arguments against designation.

“This rebuttal argues that, despite meeting the thresholds, X does not qualify as a important gateway between businesses and consumers,” it wrote, adding: “The investigation should be completed within five months.”

#Booking #latest #fall #market #power #rules

Leave a Comment