European competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager; Trump is not a fan. Picture: REUTERS
European competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager; Trump is not a fan. Picture: REUTERS

Washington  — On Wednesday, US President Donald Trump suggested the EU was out of line in “suing” US tech companies such as Facebook and Alphabet’s Google, saying legal action against those firms should be the purview of the US.

“She hates the US  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.

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

In a 2017 deal with the EU, Google agreed to pay $2.7bn to resolve claims it unfairly steered business towards its shopping platform. In March, it was fined $1.7bn 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 US worse than China when it comes to trade.

The EU’s antitrust system is different to that of the US, with authorities launching investigations 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. Said Trump: “They should be sued.”