Berlin has called on the EU to pursue a harder line on the Big Four tech companies, also known as Big Tech, in order to strengthen Europe’s “digital sovereignty”, The Financial Times reports.
In a letter to the EU’s competition chief Margrethe Vestager seen by the newspaper, German Economic Affairs Minister Peter Altmaier stressed that “in light of current developments in the global data and digital economy, we require tougher oversight of abusive practices in order to maintain competition.”
“Specific rules of behaviour need to be imposed on market-dominating online platforms,” Altmaier said, referring to Amazon, Microsoft, Google and Facebook.
Altmaier’s spokesperson confirmed the Minister’s letter, saying that the document included proposals “to strengthen the European economy and industry by adjusting the framework conditions for competition and state aid law."
“The goal is to counter unfair competition by state-controlled and state-subsidised companies from third countries, and to toughen up oversight of abuses by market-dominant online platforms,” the spokesperson pointed out.
Berlin Unveils Pans for European Cloud Computing Initiative
The letter comes a few weeks after a summit in Dortmund, where participants specifically dealt with the issue of boosting European tech.
Speaking at the summit, Altmaier unveiled plans for a European cloud computing initiative, dubbed Gaia-X.
He described it as a “competitive, safe and trustworthy data infrastructure for Europe," expressing hope that a Europe-run cloud system would “help restore our digital sovereignty” and serve as a “basis for a digital ecosystem.”
Earlier this year, the European Commission called for imposing an additional tax aimed at Big Tech’s digital sales, in order to curb the practice of paying global levies in countries with lower tax rates.
However, several EU countries blocked the legislation, citing a possible loss in profits and possible negative reaction from the United States.