Large fines or even break-ups for companies that ignore EU-laws

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Tech giants who oppose the EU’s new rules restricting their power can expect to face severe penalties. Large fines or even breaking them up are not out of the question.

This was stated by the European Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton. “We start with a fine, then you have a bigger fine, then you may have a temporary remedy, specific remedies, then you may have at the end of the day, what we have also in the competition rules, structural separation”.

Keep large companies in check

The fines are for a breach of new legislation that the EU is working on to keep large companies in check. The EU believes that it can be too difficult for small companies to gain market share in an environment dominated by tech giants.

Separations not the objective

Breton emphasises that it is not his aim to split up companies, but he considers it important to have the means if they are needed. If fines ultimately result in a forced separation, this only applies to the European market.

Related: Should Europe compete for technological world domination?

Acquisitions

The legislation will also have an impact on companies wanting to make an acquisition. They will have to justify their intentions to the EU. The EU can then monitor whether companies are actually keeping their promises.

Timeline

It may be several years before the legislation actually takes effect. It is expected to be presented in December, after which the rest of the EU will have to make its judgement.

Tip: EU working on criteria to distinguish tech giants