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Germany wants Big Tech to pay towards compliance costs of new digital law

News conference on the launch of the European Tax Observatory, in Brussels

By Foo Yun Chee

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany wants Big Tech companies Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, ByteDance, Meta Platforms and Microsoft to contribute towards the compliance costs of new European Union rules aimed at curbing their power, a senior German economy ministry official said on Thursday.

Sven Giegold, state secretary in charge of competition policy at Germany's economy ministry, said such a move would help EU antitrust regulators better enforce the Digital Markets Act (DMA) which the six companies have to comply with on March 7.

The landmark rules set out a list of requirements for the six companies, such as allowing rival services to inter-operate with their services, as well as letting business users promote their offer and conclude contracts with their customers outside their platforms.

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The six companies are prohibited from unfairly ranking their own services and products above their rivals on their platforms or preventing users from un-installing any pre-installed software or app on their devices.

"The (European) Commission needs additional resources for enforcement," Giegold told a conference organised by the German antitrust agency.

"We propose for the DMA we should introduce the same fee financing as under the DSA (Digital Services Act)," he said.

Under the DSA, which requires Big Tech to do more to police content on their platforms, 20 very large online platforms, including Meta, Google, Apple, TikTok, and also two very large online search engines, have to pay a supervisory fee amounting to 0.05% of their annual worldwide net income.

The DMA does not have such a supervisory fee.

Giegold also said EU antitrust enforcers should focus more on key sectors with an international aspect to help European companies compete better globally.

"Next week we will be formally submitting a concrete German proposal that is for the EU level. We would like to see this proposal in the reforms of Mario Draghi and Enrico Letta," he said, referring to two former prime ministers of Italy tasked by the Commission to come up with ways to revive the EU's competitiveness.

He said key areas for EU businesses are raw materials, energy, transport, semiconductors and cloud computing.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee. Editing by Jane Merriman)