MEPs Delay Hearing With Tech CEOs ‘By Two Months’

The European Parliament has said it is willing to push back a hearing with the chief executives of major US tech companies by two months, as it prepares a major regulatory overhaul.

In January EU lawmakers had invited the chief executives of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google to remotely attend the hearing in Brussels.

The hearing was originally scheduled for Monday, 1 February.

The European Parliament’s economic affairs committee, which sent the original invitations, said in a letter that it is “willing to consider rescheduling and looking into alternative dates later than the originally planned date of Feb. 1”, Reuters reported.

Image credit: European Parliament

Delay

The letter suggested another date in February or March.

However, the companies are reportedly unlikely to be willing to make their chief executives available, preferring to send senior executives with expertise in competition and tax issues.

In December the European Commission unveiled proposed regulations aimed at curtailing the powers of major tech platforms and forcing them to take more responsibility for illegal content, goods and services.

Over the coming months the European Parliament is to begin evaluating the proposed rules, called the Digital Services Act (DSA) and the Digital Markets Act (DMA).

The virtual hearing is intended to allow tech companies to provide input on their business models and future plans as they “face the challenges of altering market conditions”, MEPs’ original invitation said.

Pressure

It emphasised that the invitation was extended to “CEOs only”.

The Financial Times reported that MEPs are threatening sanctions for failure to participate in the hearings, including barring company lobbyists from future parliamentary meetings.

However, such a ban could be difficult to implement for practical or legal reasons.

The companies’ unwillingness to participate in EU proceedings contrasts to the situation in the US, where their chief executives have appeared before Congress in high-profile hearings.

Vestager said in December that the EU would be willing to use the new regulations to “impose structural remedies [and] divestitures” on tech firms that abuse their market dominance.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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