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European Union Looks to Copy U.S. Congress in Big 4 Tech Antitrust Hearing

UTC by Godfrey Benjamin · 3 min read
European Union Looks to Copy U.S. Congress in Big 4 Tech Antitrust Hearing
Photo: Depositphotos

The European Union wants to conduct another antitrust hearing with the U.S. big 4 tech companies and review the tax laws governing digital companies in the region.

The European Union parliament is looking forward to conducting an antitrust hearing involving the U.S. big four tech companies, Facebook Inc (NASDAQ: FB), Google LLC (NASDAQ: GOOGL), Apple Inc (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Inc (NASDAQ: AMZN). Drawing on the premise that current antitrust laws in the United States is incapable of broadly covering the operational model of tech companies, the United States lawmakers grilled the CEOs of the tech companies for alleged anticompetitive behaviors.

Since the big 4 tech companies have a global reach, The head of competition policy in the European Union, Margrethe Vestager has been tasked with revising the region’s antitrust policies during her second mandate. Margrethe is billed to reveal the new competition tools in the course of the year. Weighing in on the necessity of an antitrust hearing in the European Union, Margrethe said:

“And that they have a gatekeeper role which means that If they act unchecked, they can also cause significant harm to competition, innovation and ultimately to consumers.”

While the EU is perfecting plans to make this happen, it also intends to revise the taxation policies governing the operations of these and other tech firms operating in the region.

Congress Hearing

The hearing held virtually on the 29th of July and saw Congress antitrust subcommittee pose difficult questions before each of the CEOs bordering on their predatory role on smaller businesses over time. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was directly questioned about his company’s strategy of copying competitors’ apps and features, and even threatening to do so as a negotiation tactic amid Merger and Acquisition discussions. The 2012 acquisition of Instagram was brought to the fore.

Sundar Pichai, Google CEO, had to defend the company’s decisions bordering on the corporation’s threat made on rival companies including Yelp and Genius. Apple CEO, Tim Cook had to defend the position the foremost tech firm took to ban third party screen sharing apps when it launched its Screen Sharing Feature back in 2019. Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos was not spared as he admitted that he could not guarantee whether his firm has acted in an uncompetitive manner.

Following the hearing, the House concluded that the four tech firms are operating as a monopoly and expectations of a push to restructure them would not come as a shock to wall street observers.

Can Europan Union Subject These CEOs to Similar Antitrust Hearing?

As CNBC reported, the European Union has made an effort to schedule a hearing with the big four tech firms, an invitation that only Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg has honored.

As it looks to redefine the digital market landscape among the 27 European Union member countries, expectations rise for the CEOs to reconsider their position moving forward.

While the appearance of the CEOs may create an aura of discomfort for the firms they represent, it will help avoid possible sanctions that may hamper their operations in the region in the future.

Case with Taxation

The European Union has seen challenging times this year with respect to the economic crises ushered in by the coronavirus pandemic. As part of the measures to member states raise more funds to cushion the economic effects of the pandemic, the EU is set to revise its tax billing for digital companies from its current 9.5% to 23.2% close to traditional businesses.

The proposal has been there before now but has not achieved the maximum consensus needed for it to be enacted. However, member countries are more likely to see this revision passed as everyone desires better financial leverage to battle the COVID-19 situation

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