A paper signed by Bruno Le Maire, Minister of Finance of France; Peter Altmaier, German Minister for Economic Affairs; and Mona Keijzer, the Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs, said the EU’s flagship proposals for future technology regulation, the Digital Markets Act, lacked “ambition”.
The document, which has yet to be released but has been seen by the Financial Times, called on the EU to step up and “speed up” merger review, especially when it comes to “strategic platform companies consisting in systematically buying companies in order to stifle competition ”.
The countries also called on the European Commission to give them more power to legislate and enforce technology policy nationally, just days after Germany opened antitrust lawsuits against Amazon and Google.
They called for “rapid and proactive cooperation” between EU countries and Brussels and for a widening of the legal scope of member states to act locally.
As the digital markets law passes through the European Parliament, countries want to see “clear and legally certain” thresholds for mergers and acquisitions, which would force close scrutiny of takeovers by big tech companies where their targets have few targets. revenue but potentially valuable technology.
Tech companies have a history of acquiring potential competitors at an early stage, like Facebook’s purchase of WhatsApp and Instagram when they were relatively small.
“The effectiveness lies in the combination of measures for all custodians and a flexible case-by-case approach by taking targeted measures against the biggest players. This includes our efforts to prevent them from regularly buying innovative start-ups. This is why we want all mergers and acquisitions by the controllers to be evaluated by the regulator, ”Keijzer said.
Pressure from member states to have more say in how to reduce the power of big tech as Brussels seeks to adopt EU-wide rules and play a leading role has worried officials of the EU.
Earlier this year, EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager warned in an interview with the FT that it was in the interest of the big platforms to align with Brussels with a single legislation or face a patchwork of national rules.