Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s chair of digital and competition policy, rejected the idea that the upcoming Digital Markets Act (DMA) would target only US tech companies.
I talked after The White House warned Brussels The tone about its groundbreaking new technology policy sent a negative message and indicated that the EU was “not interested in engaging with the US in good faith” about the challenges posed by big tech platforms.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Vestager, who met with President Joe Biden during his visit to Brussels this week, said: [DMA] It is not directed towards specific companies or towards certain nationalities of companies.”
The DMA defines new rules for platforms that are large enough to be “gatekeepers”.
“What we were developing while trying to figure out who should be in the range and who should be a potential gatekeeper, was about market effects,” Vestager said.
She said the bill, which will now be debated by the European Parliament, focuses on the “market effects” of big tech companies’ dominance over smaller competitors.
She suggested that the standards set by the European Union would help frame a broader focus than just Silicon Valley’s biggest companies: Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft. “We have made this proposal more broadly for good reasons due to market effects,” she said.
Vestager’s comments will be seen as Brussels’ way of trying to calm tensions between the European Union and the United States at a time when both sides are keen to rebuild transatlantic relations after four turbulent years under Donald Trump.
But last month, Andreas Schwab, the German MEP who will help guide DMA legislation through the European Parliament, said US tech companies were the “biggest problems”.
Let’s focus first on the biggest problems, on the biggest bottlenecks. Let’s go down the line – one, two, three, four, five – and maybe six with [China’s] Ali Baba.
The US administration has come under pressure to be tougher against European Union plans to regulate big tech companies. The co-chairs of the US Digital Commerce Conference recently warned of EU legislation that could “disproportionate damage American technology companies.
However, despite rhetoric accusing the European Union of unfairly targeting US companies, the US government has appointed stinging critics of big tech companies to important positions of power. Just last week, Lena Khan, an advocate of corporate break-up, was named chair of the Federal Trade Commission.
Separately, the US House of Representatives introduced five bills that were in some parts stricter than the Brussels bill. Observers point out that both the United States and the European Union face a similar challenge of taming the companies that have becomeToo big to care“.