We don’t pick on US firms: EU Competition Chief

The head of Europe's competition watchdog has denied claims that it is unfairly targeting U.S. firms, despite ramping up investigations into American multinationals like Google and Amazon.

Speaking to CNBC, Europe's competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, insisted that allegations of discrimination by the antitrust agency were unfounded.

"I hear that as well, and I take that extremely serious(ly), because if that was true, it would be highly critical. So of course we look at the stats and we cannot find the bias," Vestager explained.

Critics have accused Vestager of undue scrutiny of U.S. multinationals since she took office in 2014, after which the European Commission started raising regulatory questions around American tech giants like Google and Amazon.

Google could be facing fines equal to about 10 percent of its global turnover after the competition watchdog accused the company of "abusing its dominant position" in the web search market, saying it favored its own shopping comparison services in general search results.


Meanwhile, Amazon is facing questions over whether it took advantage of its sway in the e-book market, potentially blocking other digital publishers from breaking through with more favorable prices.

Amazon has also been accused of shirking taxes through arrangements made through Luxembourg.

"I think for anyone, no matter the flag of the company who wants to be in the European market, it's very important to respect that we want fair competition on a level playing field," Vestager said.

And while some campaigners and lobby groups have raised red flags over the amount of money being spent by Google on lobbying antitrust officials in Brussels, Vestager said it wasn't a concern.


"One of the best ways of vaccinating yourself against undue influence is of course the transparency that we have, so that people know who is talking to who. (And) one of the reasons that you know that they are spending is of course that we have a high degree of transparency," she explained.

And though some have blamed Microsoft for pushing a hostile agenda against Google in Europe, the competition chief said the watchdog it wasn't a pawn in the companies' rivalry.

"We only have a case if we have a case, no matter how much money is spent lobbying,"