Europe unleashes its super-weapon for regulating the Internet

Brussels (AFP) – On Friday, the European Union is going on the offensive against the excesses of the Internet giants: the DSA (Digital Services Act) will force major platforms such as Google, Facebook, X (formerly Twitter) and TikTok to take more action against illegal content. Otherwise, they will face heavy fines.

The principle of the new European regulation sounds like a slogan: What is illegal offline must also be illegal online – which, all the experts stress, is not so simple. A delicate balance has to be struck between freedom of expression, which is paramount, and the fight against abuses that threaten fundamental rights or democracy (disruption of elections, disinformation, protection of minors, etc.).

How can this be achieved? The DSA targets platforms, not users. From Friday on, a series of obligations will be imposed on the 19 largest social networks, marketplaces and search engines (including Apple, Google, Microsoft, YouTube, Amazon, Facebook, LinkedIn, Wikipedia, TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram, X, Alibaba and Booking).

As before, the platforms are neither legally responsible for the content they host nor obliged to check it beforehand. But the EU hopes to push them to install an effective system of control, after ten years of increasing online violence.

Among other things, they will have to offer Internet users a tool for easily reporting “illegal” content (as defined by the European Union). (22 August)

Timmermans: Guardian of the Green Deal leaves the EU

Brussels (ANSA) – Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans resigned as a member of the European Commission following his decision to stand in the upcoming parliamentary elections in the Netherlands.

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, expressed her gratitude to Timmermans for his many years of successful work on behalf of European citizens and accepted his resignation with immediate effect. Von der Leyen decided to entrust the supervision of the European Green Deal as well as, temporarily, Environment Policy to Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič, pending a candidate put forward by the Netherlands.

Timmermans will be the candidate of a joint list formed by the Social Democratic Party (Pvda) and the Greens (GroenLinks) for the Dutch early elections that will decide the successor to the government of liberal Mark Rutte this autumn. “It’s official! Thousands of members have voted for Frans Timmermans as leader of GroenLinks-PvdA for the upcoming parliamentary elections,” the coalition announced on X.

“He has a clear vision for a green and social future for the Netherlands and is ready to face the most important challenges with trust and mutual attention,” they added.

Timmermans, Pvda and GroenLinks explained, received 91.8 percent of the votes in a referendum among members. Just under 38,000 members of the two parties took part in the consultation. However, the voting was a mere formality, as Timmermans was the only candidate. This is the first time that the Social Democrats and Greens are participating together in national elections, although they already form a single group in the Senate (22 August).

Government before December or elections in January: Two scenarios emerging in Spain

Madrid (EFE) – The Spanish Parliament will decide on the investiture as Prime Minister of the leader of the Conservatives, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, in a session to be held on 26 and 27 September. This opens up two possible scenarios: the formation of a government before 27 November or a repeat election on 14 January.

This timetable confirms that a large part of Spain’s rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU), which will last until 31 December, will be carried out under the baton of the current Spanish government in office, presided over by Pedro Sánchez, although there is the possibility of a transition in autumn, in the event that Núñez Feijóo is invested.

On Tuesday, the leader of the Popular Party (PP) was designated as a candidate for investiture by the King of Spain, Felipe VI, as his party was the force that won the most votes in the last elections in July. However, Núñez Feijóo does not face an easy task. To be invested in the first round of voting, he has to reach the absolute majority, 176 of the 350 deputies.

Therefore, a second round is expected to take place 48 hours later, on the 29th, in which he will only require a simple majority to be appointed president. In other words, he will have to get more yes than no votes. If he does not manage to do so, the door would be open for the current Spanish Prime Minister to run for the investiture in the next round. (23 August)

This is a compilation of the European coverage of enr news agencies. It is published Tuesdays and Fridays. The content is an editorial selection based on news by the respective agency.