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National antitrust watchdogs want more say in enforcing EU tech rules

·1-min read
FILE PHOTO: Facebook logo in front of the EU flag

By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - German and French antitrust watchdogs and their counterparts in the other 25 EU countries on Wednesday argued for a bigger role in enforcing proposed tough new rules reining in Alphabet unit Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon.

The Digital Markets Act (DMA), proposed by the European Commission last year, targets online gatekeepers - companies that control data and access to their platforms - which thousands of businesses and millions of Europeans rely on for their work or social interactions.

Under the draft legislation, three or more EU countries can ask the EU competition regulator to open an investigation while a digital markets advisory committee made up of national representatives will be consulted on fines and non-compliance.

The national antitrust agencies said giving them a bigger role in enforcement would make the DMA more effective and future-proof.

"These authorities have accumulated the highest level of expertise within the digital economy with respect to the practices of digital platforms which affect fair and open competition in their respective ecosystems," the watchdogs said.

"Enforcement powers could be shared, under the supervision of DG COMP, with national competition authorities, when appropriate," they said, referring to the Commission's competition unit.

The agencies also asked for the power to start investigations on the basis of the DMA or called on to help during dawn raids.

France has slapped millions of euros in fines on Google and Apple in the last two years for anti-competitive practices while the German antitrust authority, beefed up with new powers, opened investigations into Apple, Google and Amazon in the last two months.

The DMA needs input from EU lawmakers and EU countries before it becomes law, possibly next year.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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