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Political wrangling in Brussels and the ePrivacy Regulation

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This morning, the LIBE Committee - whom are responsible for the ePrivacy brief – voted on what its amendments to the regulation would be. The amendments will then be taken to the whole EU Parliament for debate but do not change substantially at this stage.

The vote proved to be extremely contentious, as clear divisions between the various political parties emerged.

The Committee narrowly voted to accept the proposed amendments by a margin of 31 to 24.

The amendments are bad news for the marketing industry, doing very little to dispel the concerns that the DMA have previously raised with the text.

The text still contains no reference to other legal bases for processing in the GDPR and relies solely on consent. This will mean plummeting advertising revenues as a result of the lack of consent for cookies online.

B2B corporate marketing will be required to have an opt-in consent and this will severely hamper businesses’ abilities, especially SME’s, to enter the market. It is anti-competitive.

The political process was complicated because the EPP Group, the largest political party in Brussels, was offered an ultimatum by Green and Socialist MEP’s. They were told to support the current amendments or be ignored. The left wing political parties hold the balance of power in the LIBE Committee.

The EPP Group refused to do so and voted against the amendments. They were joined by the ECR Group, which the UK Conservative Party is a member of.

The DMA urged UK MEP’s to vote against the amendments in an email yesterday afternoon highlighting our chief concerns with the text.

The division in the Committee weakens its mandate. These amendments will now be debated in the EU Parliament.

Fresh amendments can still be made in the Parliament and the EPP and ECR Groups will no doubt attempt to do so. The DMA will be working with European partners, FEDMA, to influence the process.

In the longer term, the DMA’s lobbying focus will move from the EU Parliament to the Council of Ministers where changes can still be made.

The Council of Ministers represents the national governments of member states and tends to be more business friendly than Parliament does.

The Council are yet to vote on their proposed amendments and are still discussing them. The DMA will focus its efforts on influencing the Council text; addressing the marketing sector’s concern with the text.

DMA GDPR lobbying was focussed on the Council, and it was through them that we were able to achieve direct marketing being recognised as a legitimate interest in the recitals of the law.

If a strong consensus is achieved in the Council this will significantly bolster arguments against the Parliament where there is large scale division among MEP’s and political parties.

Hear more from the DMA

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