Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s head of digital and competition policy, rejected the idea that her future Digital Markets Act (DMA) would target only US technology companies.
She spoke after The White House has warned Brussels that the tone around its flagship new technology policy sent a negative message and suggesting that the EU “is not interested in engaging with the United States in good faith” about the challenges posed by major technology platforms.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Vestager, who met with President Joe Biden during his visit to Brussels this week, said: “The [DMA] it is not directed towards certain jobs or towards certain nationalities of the company. “
The DMA sets out new rules for platforms that are considered large enough to be “gatekeepers”.
“What we were developing as we were trying to figure out who should be in the range and who could be the gatekeeper was about the 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’s dominance over smaller rivals.
She suggested that the criteria developed by the EU would help focus on a broader focus only on the largest Silicon Valley companies: Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft. “We made this proposal on a larger scale for good reasons because of the market effects,” she said.
Vestager’s comments will be seen as a way for Brussels to try to calm tensions between the EU and the US at a time when both sides want to rebuild transatlantic relations after four turbulent years under Donald Trump.
But last month, Andreas Schwab, a German member of the European Parliament who will help steer DMA law through the European Parliament, said U.S. technology companies were “the biggest problems.”
“Let’s focus on the biggest problems first, the biggest bottlenecks. We go through a row – one, two, three, four, five – and maybe six with [China’s] Alibaba, ”he said.
The US administration is under pressure to be tougher against the EU’s plans to regulate Big Tech. The co-chairs of the US Digital Commerce Club recently warned of EU legislation that could “disproportionately harmful American technology companies. “
However, despite rhetoric accusing the EU of unfairly targeting U.S. companies, the U.S. government has appointed harsh critics of Big Tech to key positions of power. Just last week, Lina Khan, a vocal advocate of the collapse of U.S. companies, was appointed president of the Federal Trade Commission.
Separately, the US House of Representatives has submitted five laws that are in some parts even stricter than the draft law in Brussels. Observers point out that both the US and the EU face a similar challenge in taming companies that have become “too big to care”.