Where do you think there could be more cooperation between regulators?
We work closely with the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission. If we start a competition case and we know our colleagues in the US are working on the same thing, we ask these companies, do you allow us to exchange information and discuss this? Once we have the necessary immunity, we can discuss injury theory, how we see things, how we push things.
This is good for us because the smarter our eyes are on a case, the better we can do it. For these companies, if it’s remediable, then maybe a remedy works on both sides of the Atlantic. We are different democracies, but we are democracies and we can do more to jointly set standards for technology use and development. The world needs to do this.
In the U.S., talk of tech competition often turns to China and investments by Chinese companies in the U.S. Is the same conversation taking place in Europe?
Well, we recently got two new tools. One is to screen FDI to see if the investor has the right intentions: doing business to make money, it is a good thing, or if there is a risk of disrupting public order or safety. The second is a tool to look at foreign subsidies. For example, if there is an open tender for a bridge, foreign companies cannot offer attractive bids because they receive cheap financing or subsidies. [The regulation, expected to go into effect next year, also applies to mergers and acquisitions in the EU.]
EU’s Digital Services Act and digital market lawtwo laws aimed at regulating cyberspace and promoting competition come into force within the next two years. What does this mean for everyday users?
If you look at the DSA, the internet should be a safer place and more akin to physical reality: your consumer rights will be upheld, you will know that if the item you buy is defective, someone can complain, and illegal items will be delete. The Digital Markets Act is a driving force for innovation in the marketplace, so small businesses can really do it. It will also give us information on the acquisition of smaller companies by big tech companies so that we can check whether the target should actually scale independently.
These new laws will give you broad powers to investigate companies and their practices. What kind of enforcement powers will you have?
The process of strengthening law enforcement capacity is under way. Brussels will be the only enforcer, but we coordinate closely with member states. We may form a joint investigative team. National competition authorities may also operate outside the scope of the DMA.
The last big tech regulation in the EU, the privacy framework GDPR, been criticized Because people are not being protected as hoped.