Following on from the European Commission’s €2.4bn fine against Google last week, the trade commissioner Margrethe Vestager has called for tougher powers to be granted to her competition department in order to intervene earlier in antirust problems. These so called interim measures would avoid long delays previously experienced in EU investigations by allowing the commission to order companies to cease suspected anti-competitive behaviour even before there is a formal finding of wrongdoing.
Speaking to the media, Ms. Vestager spoke of how the Commission could adopt powers like those currently seen in some European member states, highlighting France in particular who ‘’have been very successful in doing interim measures for quite some time’’. The European Commission currently must prove that a company is causing “irrevocable harm” before it can impose any kind of interim measures. However, it is restricted by a high threshold meaning that is effectively never used.
Although no concrete plans exist at the moment, Brussels is exploring its options and watching other jurisdictions to learn how to have a ‘’more workable’’ tool. The Google decision announced last week was first initiated eight years ago and even though it was welcomed by the internet giant’s rivals, many of them went out of business in the intervening years. Frustrated by such delays, the Commission is seeking to remedy such issues.
After last week’s ruling against Google, Ms. Vestager raised the heat even further by urging companies who believe they have been hurt by the tech giant’s “illegal behavior” to sue for lost earnings. The competition arm of Brussels under Ms. Vestager shows no sign of slowing down and these interim measures, if ever granted, could see companies operating in Europe facing greater scrutiny from the European Commission.
Compliments of Vulcan Consulting – a member of the EACC