While the Covid-19 crisis has shed light on the major role played by the leading online platforms in many aspects of the lives of consumers and citizens (work and education, news, entertainment, culture, shopping), Europe is taking new steps to complete the digital transformation of the economy and society, strengthen the single market and ultimately regulate the Internet giants to regain its digital sovereignty.

  • This study takes a close look at the measures taken and strategies pursued by Europe in terms of personal data protection, supporting content creation, taxation of platforms and regulation of the competition
  • It also highlights the unique characteristics of national regulation in certain European countries and sanctions that have been implemented at the local level against GAFA
  • It compares the European approach to that adopted in North America by the United States and Canada
  • It helps us to understand how Europe is trying to meet the major challenges posed by the dominance of US and Chinese platforms, by developing and imposing a set of harmonized rules at the single European market level

Table of contents

1. Executive Summary
• Europe lagging behind United States and China in the digitalisation race
• European realisation of the need to collaborate, but this notion clashes with national divergence

2. Introduction

3. Protection of personal data
3.1. Key issues for Europe
3.2. European regulatory framework
3.3. European regulatory framework still incomplete
3.4. Controversial text on both sides of the Atlantic
3.5. The option of transferring data outside the EU is strictly regulated
3.6. The EU–US Privacy Shield
3.7. Increasing number of fines across Europe for infringement of personal data
3.8. The free flow of non-personal data is being encouraged
3.9. The situation in some key countries in Europe
> Germany > United Kingdom > France
3.10. The situation in North America
> United States > Canada

4. Support for content creation
4.1. Key issues for Europe
4.2. Different regulatory frameworks until 2018
4.3. No European framework for regulation of audiovisual platforms …
4.4. General principles of the European approach to regulation of the audiovisual sector
4.5. European regulatory framework: the major regulatory steps in the audiovisual field
4.6. Main provisions of the 2018 Directive
4.7. Transposition into national law expected by 19 September 2020
4.8. Comparison of exposure and production financing contribution in national law (2010 AMS Directive)
4.9. Harmonisation of the European legal framework on copyright
4.10. The two key points of the Copyright Directive
4.11. A Directive that pits GAFA / proponents of a free internet and rightholders against each other
4.12. France, 1st country to transpose the Copyright Directive
4.13. The situation in North America
> United States > Canada

5. Taxation of OTT Platforms
5.1. Key issues for Europe
5.2. Very different taxation across the European Union
5.3. VAT, the EU’s main “harmonised” tax
5.4. The fight against tax evasion
5.5. The desire to harmonise the tax base at the European level
5.6. Moving towards a ʺGAFA taxʺ on a global scale?
5.7. Local hopes of creating national GAFA taxes while waiting for wider harmonisation
5.8. The situation in North America
> United States > Canada

6. Competition between OTT Platforms
6.1. Key issues for Europe
6.2. The European regulatory framework
6.3. Directive on electronic commerce (2000/31/CE)
6.4. A variety of measures mainly focusing on the media, telecoms and OTT platforms
6.5. Actions taken towards the DSM to harmonise single market rules and strengthen European industry against international competition
6.6. 2020 marks a new stage in the European industrial strategy and in the creation of fair competition conditions
6.7. ʺShaping Europe’s digital futureʺ: a major communication that aims to define the Commission’s priorities for the 2020-2025 period
6.8. Modernisation of Directive 2000/31/CE relating to electronic commerce
6.9. The “Industrial strategy” package
6.10. European Competition Network (ECN)
6.11. The situation in North America
> United States > Canada

List of tables and figures

List of tables and figures

Protection of personal data
• The key points of the GDPR
• The key points of the proposed ePrivacy Regulation (text from January 2017)
• Various laws covering privacy and identity protection (FTC)

Support for content creation
• Examples of video services subject to different regulations
• Examples of areas covered by national regulations
• Comparison of the main obligations of promotion, distribution and production imposed on on-demand audiovisual media services in a selection of Member States

Taxation of OTT Platforms
• Comparison of corporate taxes in Europe, (July 2020)
• Comparison of VAT rates (standard rate) in Europe, July 2020
• Comparison of VAT rates (reduced rate) in Europe, July 2020
• Illustration of the “Double Irish” and “Dutch Sandwich” schemes
• Various US tax reform measures
• Expected tax revenue from taxing the revenues of large tech companies in Canada
• Expected tax revenue from imposing GST on online sales of goods and services in Canada

Competition between OTT Platforms
• Breakdown of online advertising revenues by major player, 2018
• Amazon’s market share in e-commerce, 2019
• Market share of the major music streaming platforms, 2019
• The Digital Single Market in a set of 16 targeted actions
• Digital Single Market 2015
• New industrial strategy 2020

Geographic area



  • Airbnb
  • Alphabet
  • Apple
  • Amazon
  • British Airways
  • Cambridge Analytica
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • Lee Enterprises
  • LinkedIn
  • Marrriott
  • Mastercard
  • Microsoft
  • Netflix
  • Shazam
  • Spotify
  • Société Radio-Canada
  • Starbucks
  • Surreal Vision
  • Tenor
  • Tronc
  • Uber
  • Virgin Media
  • Whole Foods
  • YouTube

Other details

  • Reference: M20230MRA
  • Delivery: on the DigiWorld Interactive platform
  • Languages available: French, English
  • Tags: content creation, digital sovereignty, Internet giants, online platform, OTT platforms, OTT platforms taxation, OTT regulation, personal data protection

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