Tuesday

25th Sep 2018

EU to accuse Google of abusing power

  • Vestager (r) said there's ‘no harm in being a big, successful company’ (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager is expected to formally file charges against US internet company Google on Wednesday (15 April), according to several media reports.

The commission has been investigating whether Google has abused its dominant market position in internet search to advance its other services since November 2010.

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 a market share of over 90 percent in many EU countries (Photo: Trey Ratcliff)

If Vestager does accuse Google of violating the EU's anti-trust rules, the company could theoretically face a fine of maximum 10 percent of the overall annual turnover of the company. In 2014, Google had $66 billion in revenue.

However, the highest fine the commission handed out to date was €1.06 billion, to US microchip company Intel, in 2009. The previous record was €899 million against Microsoft.

While the details of the charges are expected to be released at the commission's daily press conference at noon local time in Brussels, the main allegations in competition case 39740 have remained the same in the past four years.

Companies have accused Google of favouring its other services when consumers use Google Search.

Google's search product has such a dominant position in the EU – in some countries like Belgium its market share is as high as 98 percent – that under EU rules the company has “a special responsibility to ensure that its conduct does not distort competition".

Although Google and the previous competition commissioner, Joaquin Almunia, reached a settlement early 2014, the investigation was reopened later that year.

In her confirmation hearing before the European Parliament in October, Almunia's successor Vestager said new complaints against Google had emerged.

More recently, Vestager noted there is “no harm in being a big successful company”.

“The problem is how to be precise on what the complaints are. Can we substantiate that a very strong position is being used? That I can decide in a relatively short time span when I finalise the meetings, because I still have a few to go," she said in an interview with this website published in February.

Shortly after the expected announcement, Vestager will travel to the US where she meet antitrust officials in Washington DC and on Thursday she will hold a speech titled 'Competition policy in the EU: Outlook and recent developments in antitrust'.

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.

Feature

Missing signature gaffe for Azerbaijan gas pipeline

A joint declaration on the Southern Gas Corridor project, which should deliver Azerbaijani gas to Europe by 2020, will remain secret - because the Turkish energy minister left before signing.

Visual Data

Every major city in Europe is getting warmer

An exclusive analysis of over 100 million meteorological data points shows that every major city in Europe is warmer in the 21s​t​ century than it was in the 20t​h​. Northern regions, Andalusia and southern Romania are most affected.

News in Brief

  1. ECB's Draghi set to clarify role in secretive G30 group
  2. Half of EU states at risk of missing recycling target
  3. Commission refers Poland to EU top court over rule of law
  4. Open Society Foundation takes Hungary to court
  5. EU court asked to rule on halting Brexit
  6. EU threatens Switzerland on stock trading
  7. Italy's new basic wage restricted to Italians
  8. UK tycoon offers to create pro-Brexit party

Agenda

Brexit and MEPs expenses in the spotlight This WEEK

The EU will be watching closely how the political dynamics of Theresa May's Conservative party conference starting next week will influence Brexit negotiations. MEPs might also be forced to release their office expenses.

Feature

Sound of discord at 'Sound of Music' Salzburg summit

Decisions in the EU are a complicated process of intense negotiations, quid pro quos and horse-trading, until an agreement can finally be reached. But that didn't happen in Salzburg.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  5. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  6. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  7. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  8. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  9. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  10. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  11. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow

Latest News

  1. Missing signature gaffe for Azerbaijan gas pipeline
  2. Every major city in Europe is getting warmer
  3. No chance of meeting EU renewable goals if infrastructure neglected
  4. Brexit and MEPs expenses in the spotlight This WEEK
  5. Wake-up call on European Day Against Islamophobia
  6. Sound of discord at 'Sound of Music' Salzburg summit
  7. Salzburg summit presses for bigger Frontex mandate
  8. UK's post-Brexit plan 'will not work', EU says

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us