France, Germany want EU to take a tougher stance on tech firms

Pressure is mounting in the European Union for tougher competition rules for U.S. tech firms

Germany and France have put pressure on the European Commission to take a closer look at how big tech companies operate in the European Union, a move which could lead to tougher competition regulation for companies such as Google, Apple, Amazon.com and Facebook.

French and German officials asked the Commission on Thursday to start a discussion about the development of EU competition law to deal with challenges that arise with Internet platforms, companies that don't just run their own businesses but also wield power over the publishers, information providers and app developers that depend on them, said Beate Braams, a spokeswoman for the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.

The push for more scrutiny from two of the biggest EU economies could spell more trouble for U.S. tech firms which have been under fire from national and EU authorities in on a range of competition issues.

The Commission for instance has been examining Google's promotion of its own services in search results since 2010, an issue for which no end is in sight.

It is also conducting investigations into the tax affairs of Amazon and Apple to determine whether the companies received illegal sate aid.

In Germany and France, Google has been embroiled with publishers that say the company is abusing its market power to force news outlets to allow it to republish text snippets of news articles without compensation.

France and Germany did not make a concrete proposal for changes in EU competition laws, Braams said.

The EU treaties mean that any legislative changes would need to be at the EU, not national, level, she said.

The Franco-German call came on the heels of a call from the European Parliament to antitrust regulators to consider unbundling search engines from other commercial services as a way of maintaining competition in the search market, a move that is largely seen as another slap in the face of Google.

It also follows a letter sent to the Commission by four German ministers earlier this month which covered digital matters and also highlighted competition issues.

Open markets and fair competition should be basic requirements for innovation in the digital economy, the ministers wrote. And dynamics in the digital domain should be no excuse to allow an increase to the risk of abuse by big digital firms, nor should these platforms be allowed to favor their own products, they said.

Competition policy should make sure that such dominant market powers remain vulnerable. When such market powers are no longer vulnerable behavioral regulation would be an obvious next step to take, the Ministers said.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, online payment issues as well as EU technology policy and regulation for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags regulationGoogleFacebookApplelegislationamazon.com

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Loek Essers

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?