TikTok is beginning to feel the sting of political and regulatory pressure in Europe, where the Chinese-owned app has largely evaded the scrutiny it faces in the US.

EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton warned TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew in a meeting this month that the bloc could ban the app if it failed to comply with new rules on digital content well before the date. September 1 deadline.

That’s a stark reversal from the EU’s near-silence on TikTok, while US lawmakers have been aggressive: prohibit the application of federal devices in December for reasons of national security. A proposed bipartisan bill it also seeks to block the operation of the application in the US.

It’s not that the EU is soft on technology. Europe has fined US tech giants for violating the EU General Data Protection Regulation.

The difference with TikTok is that the app has been kept out of the crosshairs of commercial interests in Europe.

“There is no political demand for research from Chinese entities,” Hosuk Lee-Makiyama, director of the think tank at the European Center for International Political Economy, said in an interview in December.

“The TikTok user base is much bigger than many people in Europe think,” he said. But, he added, «you’re not going to look too closely if they don’t steal too much of your ad revenue.»

TikTok had around 275 million monthly active users in Europe as of December, according to Sensor Tower’s Abe Yousef, noting that’s more than a third of Europe’s population of around 750 million.

TikTok was the most downloaded social media app last year in Italy and Spain, according to data.ai, formerly App Annie. The app ranked second in France and Germany, the data showed.

WhatsApp, owned by Facebook parent Meta, ranked first among social media app downloads in France and Germany, and third in Italy and Spain, according to data.ai.

Meta reported $29.06 billion in European revenue in 2021, a region the company defined as including Russia and Turkey. In contrast, TikTok posted a turnover of just $531 million in the European Union in 2021, according to the latest available UK filing. But that was more than four times what was revealed for 2020.

“The European Commission needs a bit of time to get its act together on these issues,” said Dexter Thillien, lead technology and telecoms analyst at The Economist Intelligence Unit.

“It is not due to the lack of will of the European Commission to do something,” Thillien told CNBC in a telephone interview. “They have their hands full with bigger companies.”