Trump takes aim at Vestager: ‘She hates the US’

EU Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager, from Denmark, speaks at a news conference on the concurrence case with Google online search advertising, at the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium, 20 March 2019. [Stephanie Lecocq/EPA/EFE]

US President Donald Trump on Wednesday (26 June) suggested the European Union was out of line in “suing” US technology companies like Facebook and Alphabet Inc’s Google, saying legal action against those firms should be the purview of the United States.

“She hates the United States perhaps worse than any person I’ve ever met,” Trump said in an interview with Fox Business Network in an apparent reference to EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager. Her office declined to comment.

Denmark’s Vestager is seen in Brussels as the brightest star of the Juncker Commission. A survey co-organised by EURACTIV in February found that Vestager is the most popular European Commissioner, scoring a 50% approval rating in a pan-European poll.

Vestager ranked best EU Commissioner, favourite to succeed Juncker

EU antitrust Commissioner Margrethe Vestager is the clear favourite to succeed Jean-Claude Juncker as the next President of the European Commission, according to the results of a Europe-wide online survey unveiled today (19 February).

Europe’s competition authority has taken a tough stance against Google, handing down three fines totaling more than $9 billion in recent years.

In a 2017 deal with the EU, Google agreed to pay $2.7 billion to resolve claims it unfairly steered business toward its shopping platform. In March, it was fined $1.7 billion in a case focused on illegal practices in search advertising brokering from 2006 to 2016.

“What she does to our country. She’s suing all our companies. We should be suing Google and Facebook, and all that, which perhaps we will,” he said. “They’re suing Apple for billions of dollars. They’re suing everybody.”

“They make it almost impossible to do two-way business,” Trump said, reprising his frequent complaint that Europe treats the United States worse than China when it comes to trade.

The EU’s antitrust system is different from that of the United States, with authorities launching investigations and then issuing rulings. Targeted companies can then challenge those rulings legally.

Trump also reiterated his view that social media companies were discriminating against conservatives.

The US government is gearing up to investigate whether Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google misuse their massive market power, sources told Reuters earlier in June, setting up what could be an unprecedented, wide-ranging probe of some of the world’s largest companies.

“They should be sued,” Trump said.

Subscribe to our newsletters

Subscribe

Want to know what's going on in the EU Capitals daily? Subscribe now to our new 9am newsletter.