Upgrade for EU antitrust rules, more funds for digital projects: Commission head

European Parliament plenary session State of the Union in Brussels
FILE PHOTO: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen gives her first State of the Union speech during a plenary session of European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium September 16, 2020. Olivier Hoslet/Pool via REUTERS

September 16, 2020

By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission will revise its antitrust rules to keep up with global changes and invest a fifth of its 750-billion-euro ($890 billion) COVID-19 recovery fund in digital projects to ensure it takes the lead in technology, its head said on Wednesday.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s comments on updating the bloc’s competition rules governing billion-euro mergers, state aid to companies and ensuring global companies play fair underscore pressure from Germany and France to adopt a more defensive policy.

“We presented our new industry strategy in March to ensure industry could lead the twin green and digital transition. The last six months have only accelerated that transformation – at a time when the global competitive landscape is fundamentally changing,” von der Leyen told European Union lawmakers.

“This is why we will update our industry strategy in the first half of next year and adapt our competition framework, which should also keep pace,” she said.

Von der Leyen said the EU would invest 20% of its COVID-19 recovery fund in digital projects and 8 billion euros in the next generation of supercomputers.

“We want to lead the way, the European way, to the Digital Age: based on our values, our strength, our global ambitions,” she said.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee, editing by Robin Emmott and Marine Strauss)