caffarra1_Alexandros MichailidisPoolAnadolu Agency via Getty Images_digitalmarketsact Alexandros Michailidis/Pool/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Europe’s Tech Regulation Is Not an Economic Policy

While the European Union's groundbreaking Digital Markets Act was a positive step, simply applying outdated and ineffective competition rules to the tech sector will not drive economic progress. To spur innovation, Europe should leverage antitrust to champion broader social and economic goals.

BRUSSELS – “How have you managed to tame Big Tech?” US Senator Elizabeth Warren asked on a recent visit to the European Parliament. Amid a flurry of papers, conferences, and workshops heralding the dawn of a new era in tech enforcement, the “Brussels effect” is being trotted out again.

But while it is remarkable that Europe has enacted landmark legislation to moderate online content and bolster antitrust enforcement in record time – a democratic milestone – what can these measures deliver? And what role will they play in the economic policy agendas on offer to voters in the 2024 European Parliament elections?

No one has articulated what success will look like for the flagship Digital Markets Act (DMA). The mantra of “fairness and contestability” has spawned numerous academic papers with no actual impact. “I would be happy just to get the process right,” one senior competition official told me. But what is the end goal of this “process”? For all of the European Union’s efforts to become the world’s digital police, the dividend remains nebulous. Beyond policymakers’ giddy proclamations of “taming” Big Tech, the DMA faces at least four major obstacles.