A PYMNTS Company

European Court Sides with Tech Giants in Italian Regulatory Dispute

 |  May 30, 2024

The EU’s top court ruled in favor of Alphabet’s Google, Amazon and Airbnb on Thursday, overturning Italy’s regulation that required these Big Tech companies to disclose information about their operations within the country. This decision marks a crucial development in the ongoing battle between national regulations and overarching European Union legislation.

The conflict began when Italian authorities introduced measures in 2020 and 2021 demanding that online service providers operating within Italy register and provide extensive information about their activities. These provisions also included a financial contribution requirement, with non-compliance resulting in hefty fines. Google, Amazon and Airbnb challenged the regulation, arguing that it conflicted with EU laws stipulating that online service providers are only subject to the rules of the country where they are established.

Reuters reported that the Luxembourg-based Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) upheld the tech companies’ position. “A member state may not impose additional obligations on an online service provider established in another member state,” the judges stated. They emphasized that Italy could not impose these additional requirements on service providers whose headquarters are in other EU countries.

Related: UK Regulator Investigates Tech Giants’ AI Partnerships Amid Competition Concerns

The ruling highlights a critical aspect of EU legislation: the “country of origin principle,” which allows companies to operate across the EU under the regulations of their home country. Google and Airbnb have their European headquarters in Ireland, while Amazon’s is in Luxembourg. Additionally, U.S. online travel services provider Expedia, which operates out of Spain, also supported the opposition to the Italian rules.

This decision by the CJEU underscores the challenges that national governments face when trying to enforce local regulations on multinational companies operating under the broader EU framework. It reinforces the need for harmonized regulations across the EU to ensure a consistent legal environment for Big Tech and other businesses operating in multiple member states, including Italy.

The verdict is a significant win for Google, Amazon, Airbnb and other similar companies, affirming their stance against what they deemed as burdensome and conflicting national regulations. It also sets a precedent for future disputes involving the balance of power between national authorities and EU-wide legislation.

Source: Reuters