Macron to campaign for tougher anti-monopoly rules in EU elections

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks as he visits Station F startup campus in Paris, France October 9, 2018. Ludovic Marin/Pool via Reuters

PARIS (Reuters) - French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday he would campaign to toughen European antitrust rules in European parliament elections next year, amid fears in Europe of dominating U.S. and Chinese digital giants.

“I need a stronger antitrust arsenal,” the French president told an audience of business founders in a large start-up incubator that has become a flagship for his administration’s ambitions to reinvent France as a plugged-in “start-up nation”.

"It has already started," he said, praising EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager, who has imposed large fines on U.S. companies such as Google GOOGL.O. "She was extraordinarily brave and has worked on extremely important cases to fight abuses," he said.

“I am in favor of going further and, during the European election campaign, I will make very strong proposals to that effect,” he added, without elaborating.

“It is the key if we want to be able to decide our future. Otherwise, in too many sector, the only choice we’ll be left with will be one between a Chinese player and an American player.”

Vestager has drawn the ire of U.S. President Donald Trump for her tough stance against iconic U.S. companies such as Apple. He accused her during a G7 summit of “hating” the United States, according to summit participants.

Reporting by Jean-Baptiste Vey and Michel Rose; Editing by Richard Balmforth