EU lawmakers reflect on changes that could subject European businesses to EU tech rules

By Foo Yun Chee

STRASBOURG (Reuters) – European Union lawmakers could lower a threshold that determines which companies will be subject to new technology rules, a senior EU lawmaker said on Wednesday.

The proposal could mean that some European companies, such as Booking.com, could join the list to which the rules will apply, which is expected to include major tech players like Facebook, the Google Alphabet Unit, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft.

EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager wants her draft rules known as the Digital Markets Act (DMA) to limit the power of dominant online businesses or gatekeepers, defined as those with market value of 65 billion euros (75.03 billion dollars) and more than 6.5 billion euros. of European turnover over the past three years.

Andreas Schwab, who heads the DMA in the European Parliament and had proposed a higher market value of € 100 billion, said EU lawmakers were considering changing the threshold to a lower number.

“We have not yet found the final compromise but my compromise plan foresees 80 billion euros,” Schwab told Reuters in an interview.

“We hope that there will also soon be European companies with the same amount of money and the same turnover that will also be in the scope of the DMA”, he said, but no ‘named no company.

He said the new figure was based on the methodology used by the European Commission to calculate its proposed threshold.

The market capitalization of the Netherlands-based online travel agency Booking.com is around $ 100 billion, according to data from Refinitiv.

Schwab also said national authorities should be given the opportunity to act following a call from German and French antitrust supervisors to have more say in DMA enforcement, but critics said that this could lead to fragmentation.

“I think it is important that we have the right under the DMA for national authorities to request information from the guards,” he said.

“But it is obvious that the designation of guardian remains with the European Commission and most of the procedures to be done with the Commission.”

Schwab said he hopes to reach an agreement with his fellow lawmakers soon so that Parliament can vote on his bill. The next step would be to discuss the details with EU countries before DMA becomes law in 2023.

($ 1 = € 0.8663)

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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