Having followed the debate in the Financial Times, we read with some concern the response of Olivier Guersent, the EU’s chief competition official (Letters, February 7), to Rana Foroohar’s column (“The great US-Europe anti­trust divide”, Opinion, February 5). In Guersent’s words, the European Commission “sees no need for a radical revolution in EU competition enforcement” based on its “unrivalled record of antitrust”.

As a body which operates in the digital market, we can tell him that it is in a state of crisis — despite previous well-meaning efforts of the European Commission. Notwithstanding those efforts, there has been no change on the ground. The digital market is now the plaything of a few giant corporations.

As Foroohar noted, “regulators shouldn’t wait to deal with Big Tech monopolies post facto, given the natural ability of platform companies to leverage network effects to squash potential competitors”.

While Big Tech’s platforms have until March 7 to comply with the Digital Markets Act, these companies don’t display a willingness to alter their unfair practices and follow the spirit of the law. The recent changes announced by Apple to comply received harsh criticism by a wide range of app developers. Apple’s new rules include a new cost structure that forces a heavy pay cut on developers, even when they decide to opt out of Apple’s walled ecosystem.

There is a “fierce sense of urgency” to act, as Lina Khan, chair of the US Federal Trade Commission, noted back in January 2022. That’s why digital SMEs call for a revolution in Europe’s enforcement efforts that preserves the welfare of small businesses and start-ups against the existential threat of excessive market and power concentration.

This revolution means also going beyond the narrow focus on consumer welfare, looking not just at the index of prices, but focusing on the broader economic and societal effects of power accumulation by these giants.

We hope the commission will rise to the challenge. Together, we can build a European digital market that brings innovation to everyone, fairly and effectively.

Sebastiano Toffaletti
Secretary-General, European Digital SME Alliance, Brussels, Belgium

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