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Political agreement on the Regulation on the transparency and targeting of political advertising

On 6 November, the European Parliament, Council of EU and European Commission reached a political agreement on the Regulation on the transparency and targeting of political advertising. The proposal was presented by the European Commission as part of the European Democracy Action Plan to complement the Digital Services Act on the specific issue of transparency of political advertising online. The Regulation aims to address various concerns posed by the emergence of online political advertising such as a lack of transparency on individual ads and campaigns alike, the abuse of personal data and potential exploitation of these gaps by political actors.

As the European Partnership for Democracy (EPD), we welcome the achievement of a political agreement and closure of a file which has the potential to bring more transparency and protection of personal data in the online political ads ecosystem. At the same time we are concerned to see that many shortcomings that we had highlighted throughout the legislative process are still present in this final text.

We went through the main elements in the final text on political advertising, highlighting what are the positive elements, the shortcomings and putting forward recommendations for improvement. 

  • The finalisation of the text will bring more legal certainty;
  • Remuneration is included in the definition of political ads;
  • An ads repository is included, along with a reasonable deadline;
  • It links with the GDPR in Article 18 on protection of personal data and inclusion of inferred and observed data in Recitals.
  • The definition of political ads is broad;
  • Political ads identification is done by the sponsors themselves;
  • The deadline for the ad repository to be implemented is still too long (2 years);
  • Observed and inferred data still out of the scope of the regulation;
  • The enforcement is excessively fragmented.
  • Provide guidelines on narrow interpretation of definition;
  • Make sure online platforms play a role in verifying sponsors’ declarations;
  • Anticipate implementing acts as much as possible;
  • Interpret broadly to include inferred and observed data;
  • Strengthen coordination across different authorities.