"The Three Musketeers": Germany, France and the Netherlands call to end polite talks with big tech

"The Three Musketeers": Germany, France and the Netherlands call to end polite talks with big tech

At the same time, according to CNBC, Berlin, Paris and Amsterdam demand from the European Union a tougher stance against technology giants and closer monitoring over mergers of European developers with foreign IT monopolists.

Tougher approach

The authorities in Germany, France and the Netherlands say the EU should establish clear legal rules for the acquisition of local IT companies by gatekeepers – this is how Europe calls large Internet platforms that have significant economic weight and influence on the EU internal market.

“We need to tighten control over mergers, especially over so-called gatekeepers [such as Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook], to prevent the extermination of competition through regular buyouts of emerging companies,” they said in a statement.

Countries were also asked to actively investigate cases of ‘potentially predatory acquisitions’ of startups. As former MEP Mariette Schaake noted, the position of Germany, France and the Netherlands demonstrates “growing concern about how existing competition or antitrust rules can be applied in the digital world”.

“Mergers and acquisitions have come under scrutiny since Facebook bought WhatsApp and Instagram at inflated prices, which has led to the perception that they [the IT giants] are buying up potential competitors before they even have a chance [to become a giant],” she said.

Europe has long been concerned that the world's largest tech corporations are actively absorbing local startups. At the same time, such transactions do not attract the attention of regulators due to the fact that they are not large enough.

Earlier, the Vice-President of the European Commission Margrethe Vestager has announced a real ‘boom’ in the acquisition of IT enterprises in Europe.

But while the 2011 takeover of Skype by Microsoft made a splash, smaller mergers often go unnoticed. Over the past 20 years, Google, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, and Apple have acquired about 1,000 firms, and none of these deals have been properly verified.

Regulation cannot be ignored

As noted by CNBC, the European Union is already one of the world leaders in the regulation of IT giants, but the block of three countries believes that the current set of rules needs to be updated in order to better cope with the growing power of Big Tech. In turn, European experts note that the problem of regulation of IT giants is global. Their Russian colleagues share the same opinion.

As Vadim Glushchenko, Director of the Center for Global IT Cooperation, noted, developed countries are concerned not only with the problems of unfair competition from global IT platforms, but also with the imperfection of the taxation system, as well as insufficiently effective counteraction to destructive content.

According to Glushchenko, this makes the development of IT regulatory measures one of the key trends in lawmaking.

So, France has repeatedly announced its intentions to amend the future rules of the European Union in relation to large technology companies. In particular, official Paris demands that each of the 27 EU states receive the right to impose sanctions on technology companies.

Nowadays only Ireland, where the headquarters of digital corporations are located, can effectively resist Big Tech.

Russia also insists that foreign IT companies should have official representative offices in the country. The draft law ordering large foreign platforms to open their branches on the Russian soil was adopted by the State Duma of the Russian Federation on June 1, 2021.