December 28, 2021

Europe’s antitrust policy shouldn’t ignore China

By Carisa Nietsche

Europe has a well-earned reputation for regulating Big Tech, taking the lead on privacy, data protection and especially competition. Now, new antitrust legislation that introduces criteria to identify large online “gatekeepers” is winding its way through the European Parliament. But while the Digital Markets Act is expected to target a number of U.S. tech companies, if used strategically the DMA — and European antitrust and competition policy writ large — can also be a tool to compete with China.

In the past few years, Europe has slowly awakened to China’s challenge to transatlantic technology leadership. Although many Europeans are slowly converging on Washington’s threat perceptions, Europe still lacks the tools and political will to address challenges emanating from Beijing’s juggernauts.

While the Digital Markets Act is not wrong to keep U.S. tech companies accountable, it is an opportunity for Europe to use antitrust and competition policy to recalibrate an approach to the China challenge that fits European perceptions and strengths.

While transatlantic policy responses to China should be aligned, they need not be the same. The United States and Europe should leverage their respective strengths and toolboxes to combat China’s market distorting practices in the technology sphere. And Europe should bring its comparative advantage — developing and enforcing competition policy — to bear to compete with China, beginning with the DMA.

Beijing’s tech giants are competing for size and control of the global technology ecosystem — a dynamic the transatlantic partners cannot afford to ignore. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has set the goal of market domination for their largest technology companies. To achieve this goal, the CCP is engaged in anti-competitive behavior to improve their companies’ market positions. In addition to state subsidies, the CCP often provides sweetheart deals to companies to improve their market standing.

Read the full article from TechCrunch.

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