Google Fined With $2.8-billion Penalty in Europe
Alphabet unit Google lost an appeal to a $2.8-billion European antitrust decision on Wednesday, a major win for the bloc’s competition watchdog will strengthen the EU’s push to regulate big tech.
Ms. Vestager sanctioned the world’s most popular internet search engine in 2017 for favouring its own price-comparison shopping service to give it an unfair advantage against smaller European rivals.
The shopping case was the first of a trio of decisions that has seen Google rack up a total of 8.25 billion euros in EU antitrust fines in the last decade. The company could face yet more defeats in the other two cases involving its Android mobile operating system and AdSense advertising service, where the EU is seen to have stronger arguments.
The court ruling will strengthen Ms. Vestager’s hand in her investigations into Amazon, Apple and Facebook.
The General Court largely dismisses Google’s action against the decision of the Commission finding that Google abused its dominant position by favouring its own comparison shopping service over competing comparison shopping services, the Court said.
Google departed from competition on the merits, judges said.
The court said the Commission correctly found that Google’s practices harmed competition and swatted away the company’s argument that the presence of merchant platforms showed there was strong competition.
The court backed the EU fine, citing the serious nature of the infringement and the fact that “the conduct in question was adopted intentionally, not negligently”.
Google said it would review the judgment and that it has already complied with the Commission’s order to ensure a level playing field for rivals. It did not say if it would appeal to the EU Court of Justice, Europe’s top court.
The Commission welcomed the ruling, saying it would provide legal clarity for the market.