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German Competition Watchdog Calls Out EU Tech Draft

The German competition watchdog has advised pumping up draft regulations crafted by the European Union (EU), Financial Times (FT) reported Wednesday (July 14).

Andreas Mundt, head of the German watchdog said the EU draft regulations are “narrow” and might not be able to tap anti-competitive behaviors from technology companies like Google and Facebook, the article said. Mundt called on Brussels to improve its Digital Markets Act away from targeting previous cases of abuse of dominance to mandate behavior.

Mundt is advocating for new mandates that have a “looser definition” of anti-competition laws and leave space for adopting anti-competitive best practices.

“I think the DMA is somewhat narrow,” Mundt said, per FT, claiming it copies past behaviors and “there might be new conduct that might be difficult to catch.”

EU proposals on the table aim to find out more about gatekeeper platforms. Gatekeeper platforms own the marketplaces where products and services are sold and have the leverage to determine rules of operation, per FT.

The EU proposals and regulators seek to prohibit big digital firms from preventing the use of alternative services and from abusing their power to give their products preferential treatment, according to the article. The European Commission has begun to regulate companies with large ecosystems. The commission, for instance, has three cases against Google since 2010 and has fined the company billions of dollars. Google, denying any implication that it has broken the law, is contesting the fines.

“The German law is broader and so easier to catch new strategies because the conduct from the past is given just as an example of the type of things that should be prohibited but it leaves space to identify new [anti-competitive] conduct,” Mundt said.

EU countries like Germany are moving ahead to implement competition rules despite the push from Brussels for a single law across the region. The country advanced its own laws in January that the competition watchdog is leveraging the rules to go after Google and other big tech companies.

Last month, the EU head of digital and competition policy Margrethe Vestager said that The Digital Markets Act (DMA) was not an issue for most U.S. firms, following the White House stance that the EU wasn’t interested in “engaging in good faith” with the U.S. about how tech platforms can be managed.

Policymakers in the U.S. said earlier this month that the EU should consider the implications before enacting a new digital code.

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