“Americans were fluent and firmly speaking a language about democracy and freedom, while many Europeans still spoke the language of protecting the competitive process,” event organizer Cristina Caffarra, a competition economist, said in an interview. later. That “seems totally inadequate to the task.”

In antitrust, this is new, and thanks to a series of aggressive appointments by President Joe Biden and a maturing European landscape, it has become a global dynamic that companies are forced to pay attention to.

“The EU and the United States are largely aligned, but at the moment, the stance of the American authorities is much more direct and aggressive,” said Tommaso Valletti, former chief antitrust economist at the European Commission and now a professor at Imperial College. From london. In an interview.

“They are talking to people all over the country, something that doesn’t happen in the EU, and they are pushing themselves to the limit of what the law allows them to do,” Valletti said. “I didn’t see that same stance” from Europeans at the conference, and he noted that was partly due to the upcoming EU parliamentary elections.

As the global push against corporate growth has grown in recent years, its momentum has shifted from Europe to Britain and now to the United States, where Biden’s appointees have embraced a forceful version of business restraint.

Regulators on both sides of the Atlantic see themselves largely aligned around a common outcome: reining in the power of digital titans like Google, Apple and Amazon. They maintain regular contact, cooperate in investigations and frequently speak together in public.

But gaps have also been opening.

At the conference in Brussels, Olivier Guersent, a senior European antitrust official, started a controversy (which began while his boss, EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager, was in the United States) that continues to rage in the pages of the Financial Times. In an interview alongside German member of the European Parliament, Andreas Schwab, he argued that no radical change to the status quo was necessary and that competition law enforcement was simply a “side dressing” for other policy areas. “None of this has to do with competition,” he said, referring to those other policy areas.

That sparked rebuttals throughout the day as regulators and others distanced themselves from the idea that competition was not their top priority.

“Competition is at the heart of and embedded in all of government’s work,” said Democratic FTC Commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter. “And we will do it with our eyes open thinking about the competition, the effects of different policies and government decisions, or we will do it with our eyes closed.”

Johnny Ryan of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties had pushed for a more direct attack on the EU: “We have to make sure that the next commission does not see its work with competition as a mere accompaniment.”

For his part, Schwab, who in 2014 introduced a non-binding resolution to break up Google, supports more interventionist measures, but said industrial policy in the EU is always wrestling with the interests of different member countries, and limitations are enshrined in the treaty of the European Union.

“In general, there is a fairly similar opinion on things. “Both Americans and Europeans see the need to curb platform dominance, including mergers and especially these deadly acquisitions,” he said in an interview. The limitations are “almost impossible to overcome, but we try to get ahead.”

By Sam