Since 2020, the European Competition Commissioner, Margrethe Vestager has been working to regulate the growing power of tech giants: Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon. The EU Commission proposed the ‘Digital Markets Act’ and ‘Digital Services Act’ to contain the influence of tech giants on the market and encourage a competitive economy.
However, the Financial Times reports that the new regulatory laws face long-term delay because of political disagreement over the scope of rules implementation. This might be good news for Apple because the Digital Markets Act aimed to limit Apple’s control over App Store and apps distribution on iOS devices. Under the act, gatekeepers as “companies with an entrenched position, a significant impact on the EU market and with a core platform service which is an important gateway to users” to do more curb anti-competitive practices, misuse of their platforms, and more.
“Provide merger bids to concerned authorities to prevent acquisitions that kill off rival companies.
They will be required to do more to tackle illegal content, misuses of their platforms that infringe fundamental rights and intentional manipulation of platforms to influence elections and public health, among other requirements.
The companies will also have to show details of political advertising on their platforms and the parameters used by their algorithms to suggest and rank information.”
Did Apple’s and Google’s lobbying efforts play a role in delaying the EU’s new regulatory laws?
As per the report, there is fear in Brussels that the disagreement might delay the implementation of the laws for years which would render the laws ineffective in face of new challenges down the line.
The package of measures has become bogged down in the European parliament, and now risks being watered down and heavily delayed. There are even fears in Brussels that the new rules will not be in place before Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s competition and digital policy chief, leaves her post in three years.
“It sounded like we had agreed but that is not the case . . . at all. We are a long way from having a common position on this,” Evelyne Gebhardt, a German MEP, said in exasperation during last month’s debate.
The slow progress also gives Big Tech more time to fully capture key sectors of the economy. “If we wait too long some markets will not be able to be repaired any more. This is about protecting consumers and small companies in Europe. We need to get this done as soon as possible,” said one person directly involved in the parliamentary debate.”
Previously, a survey of lobbying networks in the EU by Corporate Europe Observatory found that the tech lobbying sector in the EU spends more than fossil fuels, pharma, and other industries; Google and Facebook invested over €5 million lobbying in the EU, Apple spent €3.5 million to influence regulations on the digital economy. Maybe the lobbying efforts bore fruit for the tech giants to curb the new legislations which would have drastically changed their business models.