Upping the ante against global technology majors including Google, Apple, Amazon, Meta, Microsoft, and Intel, the EU antitrust regulator is set to update rules targeting all companies abusing their market power and those setting up illegal cartels.
According to EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager, under the new rules, Regulation 1/2003 and in force since 2004, the European Commission has already taken on Alphabet units Google, Apple, Amazon, Meta, Microsoft, and Intel and imposed billions of euros in fines.
The new rules have also allowed the EU competition enforcer to go after car parts cartels, banks' manipulation of financial benchmarks, and other illegal price-fixing groups, putting the EU agency at the forefront of antitrust enforcement.
The Commission wants to maintain its leading position, Vestager said.
“I'm announcing today that in the coming months we are going to launch an evaluation of Regulation 1/2003, the central plank of our antitrust enforcement framework,” Vestager told a conference organised by economic consultancy CRA.
“It is important that we hear the views of stakeholders concerning what has worked well, and where there is scope for more efficient and effective procedures and enforcement tools; making sure Regulation 1 is truly ‘fit for the digital age,” she said.
Vestager said the updated rules would seek to make them more operational and useful to businesses.
Such procedural changes would relate to requests for information sent to companies, dawn raids, oral hearings where companies seek to defend their cases and the 10% cap on fines levied for breach of rules or non-compliance.