Several EU Members Complain That Brussels Is “Too Soft” On American Tech Firms
In a sign that several of the EU’s most economically powerful members are mulling their own independent actions to combat the dominance of American tech giants while Brussels dreams up a bloc-wide solution, diplomats from France, Germany, the Netherlands have signed an open letter arguing that the EU isn’t doing enough, even as anti-trust czar Margrethe Vestager files her latest round of lawsuits against American firms.
The letter targeted the EU’s initiative to hold American tech firms accountable, called the “Digital Markets Act”, arguing that it “lacked ambition.” The letter hasn’t yet been made public.
Here’s more from the FT:
A paper signed by Bruno Le Maire, France’s finance minister, Peter Altmaier, Germany’s minister for economic affairs, and Mona Keijzer, the Dutch economic affairs minister, said the EU’s flagship proposals for future technology regulation, the Digital Markets Act, lacked “ambition”. The paper, which has yet to be published, but which has been seen by the Financial Times, called for the EU to strengthen and “speed up” merger scrutiny, particularly when it comes “to strategies of platform companies consisting in systematically buying up nascent companies in order to stifle competition”.
The letter focused on allowing states to adopt a “flexible approach” when it comes to enforcement.
“Effectiveness lies in the combination of measures for all gatekeepers and a flexible approach on a case-by-case basis by taking targeted action against the very largest players. This includes our efforts to prevent them from buying up innovative start-ups on a regular basis. That is why we want all mergers and acquisitions by gatekeepers to be assessed by the regulator,” said Keijzer.
The signatories also called on the European Commission to hand them more power to legislate and enforce tech policy at the country level, just days after Germany opened antitrust cases against both Amazon and Google on its own. Of course, breaking down international enforcement would be welcome news for Amazon and Jeff Bezos (along with the other American tech giants) since it would weaken Brussels ability to play low-tax states against one another.
As the Digital Markets Act passes through the European parliament, the countries want to see “clear and legally certain” thresholds for mergers and acquisitions, which would force scrutiny of takeovers by Big Tech companies where their targets have little revenue but potentially valuable technology.
This once again illustrates the power that states like Ireland (which isn’t even party to the G-7 talks about a global minimum corporate tax rate that are ongoing as we speak) have as President Biden’s attempts to re-jigger the global corporate tax status quo.
The letter also called for a “swift and proactive co-operation” between various member states when it comes to setting boundaries for American tech firms.
A similar antitrust issue is playing out in the US. Just yesterday, the Attorney General of Washington DC filed a new lawsuit alleging that the e-commerce giant egregiously favored its own products over those sold by third-party sellers.
Fri, 05/28/2021 – 04:15