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Big Tech mergers, EU will prepare new rules, but three countries want to control

Big Tech mergers-EU will prepare new rules, but 3 countries want to control

May 28, 2021: -On Wednesday, the European Union needs to be ambitious in its control of Big Tech and smaller mergers that often go on the radar, Germany, France, and the Netherlands said.

The 27-member bloc is discussing new legislation that could force Big Tech to change its operation. Last December, the Digital Markets Act aimed to level the playing field in the EU market and could be implemented by 2022.

“We have to strengthen and speed up merger control in particular vis-à-vis certain gatekeeper platforms to tackle the strategies of platform companies consist in buying up nascent companies to stifle competition,” the three countries said in a statement.

It has long been a concern for European capitals that few of the biggest tech firms in the world have bought up start-ups, which include in the EU, in deals that have escaped scrutiny as they did not meet a particular turnover threshold.

Whereas high profile purchases, like Microsoft’s acquisition of Skype in 2011, make the headlines, smaller deals often are not noticeable. In 2019, Apple purchased an artificial intelligence firm in the U.K. for an undisclosed sum, for example.

On Thursday, Marietje Schaake, president of the CyberPeace Institute, told CNBC that the position of Germany, France, and the Netherlands “illustrates that there is a growing concern with the way existing competition the rules can apply in a digital world.”

“Particularly, mergers and acquisitions have come under scrutiny when we saw, like the Facebook purchasing WhatsApp and Instagram at excessively high prices, and it resulted to allegations that they were buying up potential competitors before they even had a chance,” she added.

On Wednesday, the three nations said the EU should set “clear and legally certain thresholds for acquisitions by gatekeepers of targets with relatively low turnover, but with high value.”

In addition, they asked the EU to adopt “the substantive test to address cases of potentially predatory acquisitions effectively.”

In December, the 27 EU member states are currently discussing the Digital Markets Act proposal made by the European Commission along with European lawmakers.

“On mergers, we are still a bit behind,” he told CNBC at the same conference, adding that more than last 20 years, Google, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, and Apple have acquired a thousand firms, and none of these deals have been prohibited,” he said.

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