Germany’s economic affairs minister calls for EU hard line on Big Tech

By Francis Jay

Peter Altmaier has asked the EU to stand up to Google, Facebook and Amazon and protect ‘digital sovereignty’

Peter Altmaier, Germany’s economic affairs minister, has asked the EU to toughen its approach to Big Tech as part of its push to protect Europe’s “digital sovereignty” in a private letter.

Altmaier wrote to Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s competition chief, to call for a harder line on dominant online platforms such as Google and Facebook, the Financial Times reported.

“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 wrote in the private letter.

“Specific rules of behaviour need to be imposed on market-dominating online platforms,” he added.

Vestager, who promised a clampdown on big tech as part of her reappointment as EU’s competition commissioner, is in charge of EU digital policy.

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The German government is leading the push for a European cloud network called Gaia-X that would lessen its reliance on foreign cloud-computing providers such as Google, Amazon and Microsoft.

France, which is also keen to break the hold of US cloud providers, joined the Gaia-X project and aims to get other European countries on board early next year.

The two countries want to establish a “safe and sovereign” European data infrastructure that would include data warehouses and data pooling.

However, previous European efforts, such as France’s cloud consortia Numergy and Cloudwatt, have failed to make an impact.

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