Jan 29, 2024 - Economy

European regulators pose fresh obstacles for U.S. businesses

Illustration of EU stars pinning a hundred dollar bill

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Regulators on the other side of the Atlantic are cracking down on U.S. businesses.

The big picture: Amazon and iRobot's pulled deal Monday is just the latest example of Europe's tough stance on competition reviews.

Driving the news: Amazon and the Roomba maker pulled the plug on their $1.4 billion merger, saying they saw "no path" for clearance in the EU.

  • As part of the deal termination, Amazon will pay $94 million to iRobot, whose shares closed down 8.8%.

Meanwhile, in December, the breakup of Adobe's massive Figma deal came on the heels of a U.K. regulator's warning.

  • And come March, Big Tech giants face a deadline to comply with the EU's Digital Markets Act. It aims to limit "self-preferencing" of services and will lead to more actions like Apple's historic app store overhaul in the region.

And it's not just the tech industry that's in the crosshairs.

  • European regulators have been eager to bend pharma players' behaviors — including patent system misuse and pay-for-delay deals, Stat News reports. The EU, for example, was early in its opposition to gene-sequencing company Illumina's deal to buy Grail, the maker of cancer tests.

Between the lines: "EU regulators typically take a more aggressive stance than American regulators reviewing the very same conduct under their respective competition laws," researchers from Columbia, Berkeley and others have found.

What to watch: The first real AI rules of the road will come from the EU, Axios' Felix Salmon has previously noted.

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