• Race for EU's top jobs still open as election returns fragmented parliament
    27 May 2019
    Mixed results in last night’s European Parliament elections mean the race for top jobs in the EU institutions is open, particularly the presidency of the European Commission currently held by Jean-Claude Juncker.

    Since the center-right and center-left groups in the parliament have lost their combined majority, more horse-trading with other political groups over the policies of the next commission will be needed if the assembly has any hope of pushing its preferred candidate, or “Spitzenkandidat,” on national leaders again.

    If the parliament fails to unify around a candidate, national leaders may take control of the process themselves.

    By Michael Acton.

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  • Stigler report recommends antitrust changes, new digital agency, echoing UK, EU
    15 May 2019
    The US should create a new specialist "Digital Authority" to better regulate digital platform markets such as Facebook and Google, a study commissioned by the University of Chicago’s business school released today proposed.

    The proposal, the result of two years of study by Chicago’s Stigler Center for the Study of the Economy and the State, is the latest suggestion for how to reconfigure antitrust to better address the digital economy. It builds off of the recommendations in the UK’s Furman report, the EU’s study on digital platforms, both released earlier this year.

    The 100-page report proposes several changes to current US antitrust laws, including that mergers between dominant firms and potential rivals be presumed unlawful subject to rebuttal. It also suggests creating a specialist regulator for digital platforms that would apply different rules to companies with “bottleneck power,” defined as situations where consumers primarily rely on a single provider making it difficult for other providers to gain access. The Digital Authority could be charged with overseeing interoperability or nondiscrimination rules and separately consider mergers that involve digital platforms.

    By Leah Nylen.

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  • Skype, WhatsApp, Facebook face delay in updated EU e-privacy bill
    14 May 2019
    New EU rules that would force Skype, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger to provide the same level of confidentiality of communications as traditional telecom operators have been delayed after EU governments failed to overcome differences, MLex has learned.

    Romania, which is chairing talks between EU governments until the end of June, will present a “progress report” at the June 7 meeting of telecom ministers, rather than a “general approach” that would signal a broad agreement between EU governments, MLex understands. Finland, which will chair negotiations from July, will now have to try to reach a compromise.

    The European Commission proposed the “e-privacy” bill in January 2017. It was meant to align EU rules for online communication with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation.

    By Matthew Newman.

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  • Industrial subsidies and barriers to entry targeted by EU and China after summit
    09 April 2019
    China is ready to engage in negotiations with the EU on strengthening the World Trade Organization’s rules on curbing industrial subsidies, the country’s premier said today.

    Li Keqiang also pledged to limit domestic investment barriers by opening up new sectors to foreign companies.

    “China stands ready to work with WTO members and the EU for consensus” on the revamp of the global subsidy rules, Li told reporters following the EU-China summit today. “We have reached a joint statement: it lays out a lot of specific plans about industrial subsidies.”

    By Joanna Sopinska.

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  • FTC must open up about Google, online platform investigations, bipartisan senators say
    09 April 2019
    A bipartisan pair of prominent US senators asked the Federal Trade Commission today to break with precedent and disclose any ongoing privacy or competition investigations of Google and other big online platforms.

    In a letter to the five members of the FTC, Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat seeking the Democratic nomination for president in 2020; and Senator Marsha Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican, said they want the FTC to “take action” over “potential privacy, data security, and antitrust violations involving online platforms.”

    Klobuchar didn't go as far as another Democratic presidential candidate, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who is demanding the unwinding of a series of acquisitions by Google, Facebook and Amazon. But the bipartisan appeal by Klobuchar and Blackburn to prod the FTC into disclosure of ongoing probes was unusual.

    By Mike Swift.

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