Regulation

EU Slaps Broadcom With Interim Anti-Competitive Order

EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager

The European Union’s antitrust enforcer Margrethe Vestager is handing down an interim order to U.S. chipmaker Broadcom to halt purported anti-competitive practices, the Financial Times reported on Monday (Oct. 7).

Although the Broadcom investigation by the EU’s competition commissioner is not yet completed, this interim measure is allowed as temporary enforcement ahead of any formal decision.

Invoking interim orders — something not done in 20 years — could indicate a more aggressive stance against large technology companies attempting to block competition.  

Brussels said Broadcom's “imposing terms” prevent its customers from buying chips from competitors and abuses its position as an industry leader.

Sources told FT that it is expected that Broadcom will appeal the ruling.

EU regulators could use interim orders to stop anti-competitive practices by other large tech companies like Google and Facebook.

Interim measures were established in 1980 but haven’t been used since 2001. 

“[Vestager] has the appetite for tougher enforcement because despite all of the work over the last five years there is the painful realization that has not been sufficient to cause Google to change its ways,” Alec Burnside, a Brussels-based competition lawyer at international law firm Dechert, told the news outlet.

U.S. President Donald Trump lashed out at the EU in June for its aggressive pursuit of U.S. tech companies and singled out Vestager, saying she “hates America.”

Trump said lawsuits against tech companies like Facebook and Google should be coming from America and not Europe. Vestager is a popular figure in the EU, known as a tough regulator who has brought many tech companies to task with large fines and heavy regulations.

“She hates the United States perhaps worse than any person I’ve ever met,” Trump said earlier this year. “What she does to our country. She’s suing all our companies. We should be suing Google and Facebook ... They’re suing Apple. They’re suing everybody.”

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