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EU Antitrust Head Plans Summit With Big Tech CEOs

Europe’s top antitrust official is reportedly meeting with several American Big Tech CEOs this week.

Margrethe Vestager will meet with executives from AppleGoogleNvidiaBroadcom and OpenAI to discuss competition policy and digital regulation in the European Union (EU), Reuters reported Friday (Jan. 5). 

As the report noted, Vestager’s meeting with Apple CEO Tim Cook follows that company’s offer in late 2023 to allow competitors to access its tap-and-pay mobile wallet payments systems in an attempt to settle an EU investigation and avoid a significant fine.

The EU charged Apple in 2022 with restricting rivals’ access to near-field communication (NFC), the technology that tap-to-pay systems, therefore making it more difficult for these companies to launch competing services on Apple devices.

And Vestager’s meeting with Google parent Alphabet coincides with a pending decision from an adviser to Europe’s top court on whether judges should accept Google’s appeal of a $2.6 billion antitrust fine connected to its shopping service.

The European Commission also charged last year that Google had abused its dominance in the online advertising space by favoring its own ad tech, leading Vestager to call for the company’s ad business to be broken up.

“Our investigation has shown that Google may hold a dominant position on both ends of the ad tech supply chain,” Vestager said in a news conference at the time. “There is nothing wrong with being dominant as such. What our investigation has shown though, is that Google appears to have abused its market position.”

Google last month pushed back against the proposal that its ad business should be spun off.

“While we continue our constructive conversations with the Commission, we are opposing the call for divestment, as we don’t believe it is proportionate nor the right solution for our partners,” said Dan Taylor, vice president for global ads at Google.

Last month also saw Google and other tech firms form the Coalition for Open Digital Ecosystems (CODE) in response to new regulations such as the European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA).

The companies say they want to champion more open platforms and systems to fuel innovation and growth in the EU.

Approved in 2022, the DMA sets up obligations for large online platforms that act as “gatekeepers” (in that their dominant online position makes it hard to avoid them) on the digital market to foster a fairer business environment.