Germany’s Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Peter Altmaier wrote a letter to European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager, and asked for tighter regulations on Big Tech as part of a push to increase the region’s “digital sovereignty,” according to the Financial Times. Altmaier wants a more aggressive line against companies like Google and Facebook.
“In light of current developments in the global data and digital economy, we require tougher oversight of abusive practices in order to maintain competition,” Altmaier said in the letter. “Specific rules of behavior need to be imposed on market-dominating online platforms.”
Altmaier recently revealed plans for an EU cloud computing project called Gaia-X, as France and Germany both want to stop their reliance on cloud computing services from Big Tech companies. He said the project would be a “competitive, safe and trustworthy data infrastructure for Europe,” and that it would “help restore our digital sovereignty,” as well as be a “basis for a digital ecosystem.”
An Altmaier spokesperson said that the letter had proposals “to strengthen the European economy and industry by adjusting the framework conditions for competition and state aid law. The goal is to counter unfair competition by state-controlled and state-subsidized companies from third countries, and to toughen up oversight of abuses by market-dominant online platforms.”
He added that he wants to stop the encroachment of Chinese companies into Europe by championing a new industrial strategy that would see state investment to stop takeovers by foreign countries. The move is meant to create “national and European champions” that would be in a better position to compete with tech giants, not only in the U.S., but in Asia as well.
Altmaier also wants to improve German competence in fields like electric vehicles and artificial intelligence. He asked in the letter for the EU to make it easier for mergers and acquisitions (M&A) to happen as well, like the one between Siemens and Alstom.
“The global competitive situation … should be better taken into account in M&A cases,” he said.