Top EU Antitrust Investigator Warns Against Break Up of Big Tech Companies

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As the European Union increasingly targets big tech companies, top antitrust enforcer Margrethe Vestager has warned against the structural break up of big tech companies (via The Information).

The comments were somewhat surprising, as Vestager has aggressively pursued antitrust investigations against the likes of Apple, Google, and Amazon in recent years. For example, it was Vestager who led the EU’s appeal against a court ruling that overturned its demand that Apple pay 13 billion euros ($14.5 billion) in tax to the Irish government.

During a debate on the future of internet regulation within the EU, she cautioned that although it would be “doable” to force a breakup of big tech companies under current EU law, it could lead to a range of unintended consequences. Foremost among these, she said, are potentially lengthy court battles between European regulators and the tech companies themselves.

“I don’t think it is something that should be introduced in this legislation and I think one should be very careful with that type of remedy because one should be very sure how it would actually work,” Vestager said. “It would tie you up in court for a very very long time. I think it’s important we try these routes first with the platforms.”

Vestager is among the top European bureaucrats currently drafting the wide-reaching Digital Services Act. The legislation is set to bring a range of aggressive regulations on big tech companies, such as obligations to share data with competitors and give no preference to a company’s own apps and services.

The comments have put Vestager at odds with many other senior European officials, including EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton, who have strongly hinted at their desire to force a break up of big tech companies under certain circumstances.

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