European lawmakers invite Tim Cook to tech power hearing

article thumbnail

The European Parliament has asked for Apple CEO Tim Cook to join other major tech CEOs to a hearing on February 1, with lawmakers aiming to discuss changes that could curtail the power of Apple, Google, Amazon, and Facebook on the continent.

Set to take place on February 1 in Brussels, the European Parliament has sent out invitations to the four major tech firms to attend the hearing. The meeting with be related to proposals by the European Commission to increase competition in the tech sector, as well as to reduce the impact of fake news and other harmful content.

"The purpose of the planned hearing is to have an exchange with the chief executive officers of the four globally leading platform companies to learn about their current business models and future concepts as they face the challenges of altering market conditions," an invitation seen by Reuters reads.

The invitations are also intended "for the CEOs only" and not subordinates or other executives, as the event "will contribute to preparing the members of the European Parliament for the upcoming discussions on potential new regulation for the digital sector."

The date isn't set in stone, as lawmakers are apparently willing to change it to another in February or March to meet the needs of the CEO group. This may not be enough to encourage their attendance, as report sources doubt the invitations will be accepted.

The hearing, if it takes place, could be seen as a rerun of activity in the United States in July 2020, when Cook and other tech CEOs were summoned to a U.S. House Antitrust Subcommittee to look into tech company dominance and competition.

The European Commission introduced two pieces of draft legislation in December that would impact tech companies working within the European Union, with hefty fines issued for non-compliant activity. This includes the Digital Markets Act, which could prompt Apple to make big changes to the App Store, especially in how it markets its own apps to consumers.

Vocal Apple critic Facebook has expressed hope that the draft proposals will push back against Apple and set boundaries, suggesting in December Apple used its platform control to "harm developers and consumers."