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State of the Union: EU crackdown on big tech and Ukrainian grain comes into focus

Erdogan and Putin
Erdogan and Putin Copyright AP Photo
Copyright AP Photo
By Stefan Grobe
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Apple and Microsoft were among the companies targeted by the European Commission.

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The products and services of tech giants such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and TikTok have become an indispensable part of our lives.

They have become the dominating “gatekeepers” of our modern online ecosystem.

So dominating, in fact, that the European Commission set tighter regulations this week to prevent them from monopolising their digital domains.

"It's a very important milestone for freedom and innovation online in Europe, as the most impactful online companies - we call them gatekeepers - will now have to play by our rules, our European rules," Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for the Internal Market said.

What this all means is complicated but none of these big tech companies are now able to restrict competitors on their platforms.

Failure to renew grain deal

This week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan visited his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to revive the grain deal.

Over the summer, Russia had withdrawn from the UN-sponsored deal that allowed Ukraine to ship millions of tons of grain from its Black Sea ports to global destinations.

Putin wants Western sanctions to be lifted as a condition – which is, of course, not going to happen.

Nonetheless, Erdoğan was optimistic.

"In this context, in consultation with the United Nations, we have prepared a new package of proposals containing significant progress. I believe that it is possible to achieve results through this new process," Erdoğan said.

The absence of Ukrainian grain on world markets is a major threat to global food security, which Russia denies.

Yet it is not only Ukrainian agriculture that Moscow is targeting. The Russians are also aggressively undermining other parts of the Ukrainian economy.

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