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Europe’s competition commissioner warns on digital monopolies

Europe’s competition commissioner warns on digital monopolies

The EU should be “ready to act” should social values such as “privacy, freedom and fairness” be under threat from expanding digital monopolies, the bloc’s competition chief, Margrethe Vestager, has said, reports EurActiv. “Speaking at the OECD’s conference on competition and the digital economy, Vestager rallied the cause for introducing sweeping regulatory reforms to the EU’s digital marketplace, including offering smaller players in the market the opportunity to compete. In a veiled comment that suggested she is not altogether averse to the potential breakup of some of the world’s digital giants, Vestager also said that the main cause of concern for the future of the EU’s digital economy was the dominance of the tech monoliths and their power over smaller players in the market.” Said Vestager: “The biggest threat to competition and innovation comes from platforms that are not just a single business, but the centre of large empires.” She added that one of the main ways in which this could be achieved would be in the area of ensuring that high levels of product interoperability – ensuring that products made by one company will work properly with those made by others – are still possible within the EU’s digital marketplace. “As ecosystems grow, the Commission will need to keep a close eye on strategies that undermine interoperability,” she said. “So the expansion of platforms into new markets doesn’t undermine competition as it goes, like a bloom of algae that kills off every other form of life as it expands.” Adding that the EU needs “to preserve the opportunity for smaller rivals to break into the market,” Vestager also called for a number of reforms to foster a fairer competitive environment. She suggested this could include sellers being persuaded to offer lower prices to smaller platforms for the sale of their goods as well as innovative new products being offered only to smaller businesses rather than dominant ones. Vestager also noted that the European Commission would have to keep an eye on attempts from large platforms to clamp down on the ability of customers to switch their allegiances over to rival services, a practice known as “multi-homing”. Read more

  • Monday, 17 June 2019

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