Andreas Mundt, Germany’s antitrust chief, is close to wrapping up the first of a new type of probe on big tech. However, impending rules enforced at the European Union level could threaten his pioneering work.
The year has seen competition authorities stirred up and seemingly determined to take on big tech, with weak results, accusations of revolving doors at the European Commission, and relentless lobbying by big tech to defang the watchdogs.
Mundt is described as a pioneer in competition law and is famously known for a controversial probe into Facebook’s data collecting.
Why Mundt is worried
The official from Bonn is a stalwart and intelligent enforcer of advanced types of enforcement, many of which he pioneers. He now worries that the EU’s blanket adoption of the Digital Markets Act will be a crutch to his unique and useful type of enforcement.
He calls for a clear-cut provision in the Digital Markets Act that says the Bundeskartellamt can continue its work unhindered.
Germany approved a reform of national competition law early this year, becoming the first country on the planet with representative rules meant to curb the market power wielded, often arrogantly and carelessly, by big tech.
Brussels isn’t too bothered
Soon after the reform, the antitrust body launched three in-depth probes into breaches of the new rules by Google (News showcase data gathering practices) and Facebook (the Oculus merger).
Mundt and Co. are in very advanced stages with most of the seven proceedings his agency is handling, especially on the cases to designate Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple as ecosystems.
Over in Brussels, officials are not too keen to grant Mundt his wish. Their interests have always been to push through the next batch of bloc-wide regulation, calling the DMA a more efficient way of doing things.