What do startup entrepreneurs need from the Digital Services Act?

July 16, 2020
Digital Services Act

A few weeks ago we hosted our last (for now) #DSA4startups webinar with our member Danish Entrepreneurs. Before that, we co-hosted webinars with our members and partners in Bulgaria and Romania, the Netherlands and Germany.  

The aim of our #DSA4startups campaign is to bring the voices of startup entrepreneurs and ecosystem builders to EU policy makers. That way the Digital Services Act, legislation that will affect all online platforms, can be shaped by entrepreneurs, making it startup-friendly!

In the process we have learned so much about startups’ needs and goals and what works best for them. Every startup ecosystem is different, and they have different needs and strengths, which we appreciate and celebrate! However, we have heard 3 recurring messages from startup entrepreneurs to policy makers:

1.Engage in a dialogue with  startup entrepreneurs: We often say that great things happen when policy makers speak to startup entrepreneurs!

The COVID pandemic has shown how valuable startups are for the economy and the society. Edtech and E-health services have offered invaluable alternatives while respecting social distancing measures. Startups are key economic actors that have the potential to bring the green and digital economic recovery policy makers want to see. 


2. Design a clear and implementable Digital Services Act: Entrepreneurs should do what they are best at: innovate! For that reason, any needed new legislation should be actionable and simple.  

In the words of Noam Gerstein from Bina School “new laws should be clear and approachable for startups entrepreneurs” That way startup entrepreneurs can focus on making better and safer products and services for the consumer. 


3. Maintain the core principles of the E-Commerce Directive: Startups should not have to start-up 27 times in the European Union!

To be able to thrive, they need a harmonised Single Market. The Intermediary Liability Exemption has provided the European Union with a diverse platform economy, including today 10,000 startup platforms from food Delivery App to Ehealth services. Strengthening these principles in the Digital Services Act will contribute to the harmonisation of the Single Market and give startups better opportunities to scale. 


The prohibition of General Monitoring is a foundational principle that has enabled platforms to offer tremendous new services and products to European consumers. Any introduction of general monitoring obligation would affect startups’ possibilities to innovate within the EU. There are countless opportunities for innovation that might not even be considered if filtering was required. 

When launching a new business, entrepreneurs are taking many risks, legislation should not be one of them. According to Mandy Chilcott from TrustPilot “ the Country of Origin principle works better. As you scale, it’s really difficult to manage alignment with various interpretations of an EU law”. Reaffirming the Country of Origin principle can give entrepreneurs additional legal clarity they need to scale in the European Union. 

 The webinar series was only the first part of our #DSA4startups campaign. We’re just getting started! Stay tuned to find out the results of our impact assessment study. 

Some key milestones from the webinar series:

  • 100s of entrepreneurs
  • Panel discussions with leading MEPs, European Commission officials and ecosystem leaders
  • 4 Webinars
  • 8 startup ecosystem builders