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EU’s Digital Services Act under threat over fight between Parliament and France

After speedy negotiations, the EU’s Digital Services Act is teetering on the brink amid a fight between the Parliament and France, which holds the EU Council presidency, according to four officials and to documents seen by POLITICO.

In a move that would likely derail the swift finalization of the content-regulating law, a majority of political groups in Parliament — including Renew Europe, the Greens, EPP, the Left, and ECR — on Friday opposed changes made by the French Council presidency to the rulebook, according to internal correspondence seen by POLITICO.

“The plenary vote is at stake,” a Parliament official, referring to the state of affairs as a “hostage situation.”

Parliament was tentatively slated to vote on the bill in the internal market committee on June 16 and in plenary in July.

The DSA seeks to crack down on illegal content and make the internet safer for people and consumers. While EU negotiators reached a political deal on April 23, parts of the law seeking to crack down on illegal content were left to be finalized during technical discussions between lawmakers and French diplomats.

The French presidency added new language to the law’s preambles which hadn’t been agreed to before.

According to the groups, companies could be forced to ensure illegal content doesn’t reappear after being removed, a controversial measure known as a “stay-down” obligation and one that was previously rejected by Parliament. Gambling and betting websites and posts would also be more protected from being blocked or taken down.

After MEPs submitted their objections around a month ago, France on Friday declined to delete a reference to gambling and made a limited change to a preamble, prompting anger from lawmakers, according to emails and a text obtained by POLITICO.

“It’s a fight between the Parliament and the Council now,” said a Parliament official.

According to two EU officials, France has not held any working-party discussions to propose new additions to the DSA since the political agreement in April.

The French presidency did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.

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