On Wednesday November 10th, SME Connect organized the third episode of the “SMEs Meet MEPs”, an exchange dedicated to the DSA and Southern Europe.

Moderated by SME Connect’s own Horst Heitz, this virtual workshop was hosted by Alex Agius Saliba MEP and showcased the expertise of Alexis Waravka, Head Digital and Competitiveness, Independent Retail Europe; Joan Barata, Intermediary Liability Fellow, Cyber Policy Center, Stanford; Dana Farrugia, CEO, Tech MT, a Public-Private Partnership between Government of Malta and Chamber of Commerce of Malta; Paula Ortiz, Director of Legal and Institutional Affairs, IAB Spain; and Fernando Parreira, Business Director, SAPO (Portugal).

Alex Agius Saliba MEP opened the floor remarking the cruciality of the DSA and the necessity of getting it right the first time to safeguard both enterprises and consumers. 

Alex Waravka highlighted the need for the DSA to remain a horizontal framework anchored in its core principles such as the Country of Origin principle; any additional obligation should fall under sectoral legislation. An expert in intermediary liability, Joan Barata focused on the differences between the e-Commerce Directive and the current proposal of the DSA: Article 6 adds another layer to the already existing distinction between “active” and “passive” intermediaries, meaning the incorporation of a very limited “good samaritan” clause.

During the regional debate, Dana Farrugia showed the growing interest of Maltese SMEs in the digital ecosystem. In light of this, the DSA should pave the way for a sustainable, inclusive digital future via policies that fully integrate startups and SMEs  the ecosystem. Sharing the focus on transparency and user empowerment, nonetheless, Paula Ortiz stated that “advertising is not disinformation,” so a ban on digital ads would be counterproductive, especially for SMEs. This perspective, already shared by Alexis Waravka, was further reinforced by Fernando Parreira, who equated a total ban on digital advertising as a significant step backward in terms of legislation.