EMEA Daily: Big Tech Gets Support From Washington, in Europe

In today’s top Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) news, Big Tech got a surprise gift from the Biden White House. Meanwhile, European Commission Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager said the metaverse is here and regulations are needed.

Plus, the British finance ministry is continuing with plans to require regulators to consider the financial sector’s competitiveness when writing rules; France captured the presidency of the European Union Council and prioritized a digital transformation, and account-to-account payment company GoCardless has raised $312 million in a funding round.

Big Tech Gets Support From Washington, in Europe

The nation’s Big Tech firms have a powerful ally to protect their dominance in Europe: the Biden administration. The White House has intervened to ease the impact of proposed European Union regulations that target the nation’s giant tech firms.

The Biden administration has lobbied Andreas Schwab, a member of the European Parliament (EP) representing Germany, a proponent of the Digital Markets Act (DMA). The measure would prevent companies including Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta Platforms Inc. (formerly Facebook) and Microsoft from ranking their services above rivals.

EU’s Vestager Plans Metaverse Analysis Before Regulatory Framework

European Union regulators want to wrap their heads around how the metaverse works before formulating a regulatory framework, Reuters reported Tuesday (Feb. 8).

“The metaverse is here already,” European Commission Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager said during an event organized by German newspaper publishers. “So, of course, we start analyzing what will be the role for a regulator, what is the role for our legislature.”

UK Adds Focus on Growth in Considering Financial Regulation

The British finance ministry is pursuing its plans to require regulators to consider the financial sector’s global competitiveness when writing rules, even after some in the country said the policy makes regulators look like “cheerleaders” for finance, according to a Reuters report Tuesday (Feb. 8).

Under the restructuring, regulators would rethink existing rules and show the costs and benefits of proposed rules, changes critics say could crimp the independence of regulators.

EU Seeks to Strengthen ‘Digital Sovereignty,’ Unfazed by Meta Threat To Withdraw From Region

On Jan. 1, France took over the presidency of the Council of the European Union and has made digital transformation in the region a focus of its six-month tenure.

This came on the heels of remarks by France’s finance minister and Germany’s economic minister on Monday (Feb. 7) that dismissed Meta’s recent threat to close down its social media platforms — Facebook and Instagram — in Europe over strict data privacy rules.

US Streaming Giants Squeezed by EU Regulations

“Call My Agent,” the Netflix blockbuster about a Paris talent firm, has generated spin-offs at bewildering speed, the Financial Times reported.

French regulations allow the producers to retain more rights, letting them sell spin-offs to rival broadcasters and services. This puts global streaming platforms at a disadvantage.

TripActions Acquires Travel Management Company Comtravo to Expand European Reach

Travel, corporate card and expense management platform TripActions Group on Tuesday (Feb. 8) acquired travel management company Comtravo, which serves Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Scandinavia, to expand its foothold across the U.K. and Europe.

Comtravo offers domestic rail, low-cost carriers and ancillary air travel supply services that will supplement TripActions’ offerings and double the number of agents available to help travelers across Europe.

EU Council May Push for DMA, DSA Approval Before Summer 

Emmanuel Macron, the president of France, also holds the presidency of the Council of the European Union for the next six months. It is likely that in that time he will support the ratification of the Digital Markets Act (DMA) and the Digital Services Act (DSA).

The DMA and the DSA are the EU proposals to regulate online platforms by introducing new rules to limit the practices Big Tech companies can engage in and to hold them accountable for the illegal and harmful content that is published in their platforms.

GoCardless Valued at $2.1B After Series G

Account-to-account payment company GoCardless has raised $312 million in a Series G funding round, bringing its valuation to $2.1 billion.

The company announced its status as the latest tech unicorn in Europe and the U.K. in a news release Tuesday (Feb. 8). It plans to use the money to “accelerate its growing footprint in the open banking space through both product and geographical expansion.”

French Lender Silvr Raises $148M in Series A

French FinTech Silvr has raised $148 million (130 million euros) in its Series A round of funding. The Paris-based company says the round, a mix of $20.5 million (18 million euros) in equity and $127.8 million (112 million euros) debt, was one of the largest funding operations in the revenue-based financing (RBF) sector in continental Europe.

The company said the money will be used to hire 100 employees. Silvr provides funding to online businesses that can’t get bank loans. The RBF model bases loan repayment plans off a borrower’s future revenues.