Tuesday

15th Oct 2019

EU files new antitrust case against Google

  • Vestager has launched three cases against Google, but has yet to close one (Photo: European Commission)

The European Commission filed additional charges against Google on Thursday (14 July), adding to a previous antitrust case against the tech company.

It reinforced its initial objections against Google's comparison shopping service. In the new case, it said it will investigate whether the company has used its dominant market position to prevent websites from displaying the ads of competitors.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

”Google has come up with many innovative products that have made a difference to our lives. But that doesn't give Google the right to deny other companies the chance to compete and innovate,” said competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager at a press conference.

She said the commission had sent two statements of objection - a formality in EU antitrust investigations - informing Google of the new cases raised against it.

"Our preliminary view is that Google's contracts for the last 10 years restricted third parties from getting search ads from Google’s competitors," the commissioner continued.

"We have also found new evidence that Google abuses its dominant position by favouring own shopping comparison services in its general search result pages," she added.

The tech giant had in the past contested the commission's probe about Google Shopping. The company said it had a lesser market share than commission calculations, arguing that the EU executive had omitted merchant platforms, such as Amazon and eBay, in its competitor comparisons.

Google has also rebuked the idea that high visibility on search pages translated into more clicks.

The commissioner on Thursday dismissed these arguments.

"It's common sense, but we were also able to prove that visibility and traffic are two sides of the same coin,” she said.

”If anything, merchant platforms are customers, rather than competitors of Google,” she added.

Google has 10 weeks to reply to the new charges. If found guilty of breaching EU competition law, it could face fines up to 10 percent of its global revenue.

It is unclear, however, when this will happen. The commission has no deadline for when to bring the case to a close. The EU first accused Google of breaching antitrust laws in 2009, and has yet to send a bill to the company.

“If our investigations conclude that Google has broken EU antitrust rules, the commission has a duty to act to protect European consumers and fair competition on European markets,” Vestager said.

Her team is working "as fast as we can", she added.

”Speed is of the essence,” she said, when it came to stopping harmful market practices.

”But the other side of the coin is quality,” she said.

”What I have seen with cases of predecessors is that they [Google] will go to court”, she added, saying it was her duty to build up a strong case that can withstand a court challenge.

Meanwhile, the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), an advocacy organisation whose membership includes Google, said the commission’s investigation was based on thin ground.

“The time taken by the commission to produce its supplementary statement of objections shows that the commission is thorough, but that its case has important weaknesses,” said CCIA vice-president James Waterworth.

Google is already under investigation for forcing mobile phone makers to use its web browsing app, which squeezes out competitors.

The case was only briefly mentioned on Thursday, as the probe is ongoing. Google recently asked for more time to reply to the charges and was given until early September to do so.

Focus

EU charges Google over Android

The European Commission accuses Google of violating competition rules with its Android operating system for smartphones.

Google faces possible EU fine

Google has 10 weeks to respond to the EU commission in a case that could see it fined up to 10 percent of its recent annual turnover.

Opinion

EU case against Google is bad for developers

The antitrust investigation opened by the European Commission against the US Internet giant risks fragmenting the mobile applications environment and discourage investments.

News in Brief

  1. OSCE: Polish elections spoiled by 'homophobic rhetoric'
  2. Barcelona airport clashes after Catalan leaders jailed
  3. US: Erdogan responsible for possible Isis 'resurgence'
  4. Irish foreign minister: Brexit deal 'possible this week'
  5. UK refuses to join EU arms ban on Turkey
  6. Denmark plans to strip foreign fighters of citizenship
  7. Spain issues European arrest warrant for Puigdemont
  8. Possible delay to launch of new EU commission

Opinion

Why von der Leyen must put rights at core of business

Ursula von der Leyen's in-tray must include those European executives on trial for systematic workplace harassment, the break-up of European slavery rings, and allegations of European companies' abuse in palm oil, including child labour, land grabs, and deforestation.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  2. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  3. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  4. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  6. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  10. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  12. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  2. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  3. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  8. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  9. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  12. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us