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While underlying the many ways to build strong cooperation settings between regulators and CSOs, this report focuses on making concrete recommendations for the design of an efficient and influential expert group with the European Commission. The creation of an expert group finds its roots in article 64 and recital 137 of the DSA which require the Commission to develop Union expertise and capabilities. Once established, the experts of this group will be able to bring evidence-based information directly to the Commission and specific expertise on the protection of fundamental rights and the safety of users online. By instituting an expert group, the Commission will not only benefit from valuable expert knowledge but will also demonstrate its willingness to put in place an efficient enforcement system based on collective intelligence. Aside from the establishment of an expert group, other cumulative mechanisms will also help the DSA’s enforcement to thrive. Civil society organisations should, for instance, consider organising regular crowdsourcing events to deep-dive and analyse the data published by entities covered by the transparency obligations. As it has done in the past, the Commission can sponsor these events and be a direct beneficiary of their results. Another way for civil society organisations to bring information to the Regulator is by legal action, including by making complaints to the regulators.

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This report was written by Dr Suzanne Vergnolle with valuable inputs, comments, and analysis from Article 19’s team, particularly Chantal Joris and Isa Stasi as well as from Open Society Foundation’s team, particularly Guillermo Beltra and Claudio Cesarano. The author is grateful to the many people she interviewed for sharing their experience and providing precious input. She is also grateful to Ilaria Buri, Karolina Iwańska, Soizic Penicaud, and Paddy Leerssen for their useful comments on previous drafts. She also wants to thank Ros Taylor for proof editing the report and Randa Carranza for the design and layout. Finally, she expresses appreciation for funding from Open Society Foundations.