Are there areas where you think there could be more cooperation between regulators?
We work very closely with our US counterparts, both the DOJ and the FTC. If we open a competition case and we know that US colleagues are looking at the same things, we ask the companies, would you allow us to share information and talk about it? Once we have the necessary disclaimers, we can discuss harm theories, how we see things, how we can push things.
It’s to our advantage because the wiser eyes look at a case, the better we do. If there’s anything that can be fixed for businesses, maybe a remedy will work on both sides of the Atlantic. We are different democracies, but we are democracies and we can do more to work together to set the standards for technology use and development. This is necessary worldwide.
In the US, talk of tech competition often revolves around China and investments by Chinese companies in the US. Is the same conversation taking place in Europe?
Well, we recently acquired two new tools. One screens foreign direct investment to see if investors are coming with the right intentions: to do business and make money, which is a good thing, or if there is a risk that public order or security will be undermined. The second is a tool for examining foreign subsidies. For example, if a bridge is publicly advertised, foreign companies cannot submit attractive offers 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.]
those of the EU Digital Services Act and Digital Markets ActTwo laws to regulate online spaces and promote competition come into effect within the next two years. What does this mean for the everyday user?
If you look at the DSA, the internet should become a safer place and more like physical reality: your consumer rights will be protected, you will know there is someone to complain to if what you are buying is faulty is and things that are illegal will be removed. The Digital Markets Act is a driver for innovation in the marketplace so smaller businesses can really make it. It will also give us information about Big Tech’s acquisitions of smaller companies, so we can check if a target is something that should actually scale independently.
These new laws give you sweeping powers to investigate companies and their actions. What kind of enforcement powers will you have?
The process of building enforcement capacity is ongoing. Brussels will be the sole enforcer, but we are coordinating very closely with Member States. We can form joint investigative teams. National competition authorities can also enforce outside the scope of the DMA.
The EU’s last big tech regulation, the Privacy Framework GDPR, was criticized for not shielding the humans as well as had been hoped.