MEPs seek to streamline enforcement of EU regulation on political ads – EURACTIV.com
The MEPs of the first parliamentary committee tabled a series of amendments on the future rules on political advertising, in particular on the implementation, the sanctions regime, the definition and the public repositories of advertising.
Last week was the deadline for amendments in the Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO), which is leading the dossier, following the earlier publication of the rapporteur’s draft report on the dossier, MEP Sandro Gozi.
The regulation, which aims to institute stronger transparency measures on political advertisers and tackle disinformation in election campaigns, was proposed by the Commission in 2020 as part of its Democracy Action Plan.
The amendments will serve as the basis for future discussions in the European Parliament, where ideas such as the need to streamline enforcement across the EU and introduce public filings are starting to gain momentum. .
The changes include revisions to the recitals relating to political advertising and “related activities”.
According to the amendments proposed by both the Social Democratic Group (S&D) and the Greens, the definition of these related activities, which could include the dissemination of advertisements at the request of a political sponsor, would no longer be based solely on the provided that they were in exchange for financial remuneration, but would include those undertaken in exchange for remuneration ‘in kind’ or ‘equivalent remuneration’, respectively.
Enforcement and Monitoring
As regards control authorities, the Greens have proposed the creation of a “European Cooperation Network for Political Advertising”, which would serve as a platform for coordination and exchange of information between the authorities concerned, including including the Audiovisual Media Services Regulatory Group, the European Data Protection Council and the Commission.
Among the responsibilities of the Network would be the preparation of joint action and the development of harmonized sanctions in the event of violation of the regulation.
Amendments proposed by Conservative and Liberal lawmakers, including the rapporteur for the Gozi dossier, would give the Commission exclusive competence to monitor the compliance of very large online platforms, those with more than 45 million users in the EU and which are covered by stricter obligations under the Digital Services Act (DSA).
The centre-right European People’s Party has tabled an amendment obliging each Member State to appoint a national coordinator to act as a contact point for the Commission on the implementation of the regulation, to oversee cooperation between authorities at national level and facilitate the exchange of information and the identification of infringements.
As for penalties, progressive lawmakers have proposed a minimum fine of 2% of an ad service provider’s global revenue in the previous year for failing to meet the obligations of the settlement, and a minimum 1% for providing incorrect, incomplete or misleading information.
Left-leaning lawmakers have proposed minimum penalties of 0.5% and a maximum of 6% of the previous year’s turnover for circumventing regulatory targets, with a minimum of €40,000 to be collected for each offence.
A change proposed by the Greens provides more detail on what authorities tasked by member states to monitor the implementation of the regulation would have the power to do.
By expanding their initial ability to request necessary data, documents and information from advertising service providers, the new addition to the text would also give them the power to mandate the prompt provision of information relating to alleged violations, to perform or to request inspections of premises in order to obtain this information and to request this material from any personnel or representatives of advertising service providers, sponsors or publishers.
Support for the creation of publicly accessible repositories and libraries has also come from a number of left-to-centre MEPs.
The Social Democrats have specifically proposed that the Commission create a European repository for political advertising, which would include copies of all instances of political advertising as well as information about them made available through the transparency requirements of the regulation.
The library would also contain information about removed advertisements and would be publicly searchable.
An amendment proposed by the Greens would also see the length of time service providers are required to retain information they have gathered about advertisements extended from five to seven years after the advertisement is published or broadcast.
[Edited by Luca Bertuzzi/Nathalie Weatherald]