Parlamentarians to “break up” with reality in the Google antitrust case

Google_logo_

How many years can an antitrust case endure in the EU? It certainly depends on many factors but in the case of Google 4 is the minimum. This is because the topic of a ‘digital monopoly’ of a search engine is so refined and sophisticated that for the majority of EU stakeholders it is “terra incognita”. Also because too many interests are at stake, see for example how major European media are campaigning against Google and its power to ‘undermine’ their adverts in the search results.

The Sting has been following the matter very closely and maintains a balanced approach between the ‘search monopoly fighters’ and the right of a company to design its strategy and defence its intellectual property. For 4 years the former EU Commissioner for competition Joaquin Almunia, has been beating around the bush, launching complains, receiving Google’s proposals to alleviate the damage and throwing them back, consulting media and stakeholders. Unfortunately for the department, and fortunately for him, the good Commissioner decided to leave last month and ‘donate’ this hot potato to Margrethe Vestager, the new antitrust chief in Brussels.

As anti-Google campaigns were raging at the end of Mr Almunia’s service, in a clear attempt to push him to make up his mind, finally, it was somehow expected that the matter would escalate in the month of November, the early beginning of Mrs Vestager service. Only that this time it has reached the point where the European Parliament demands the break up of Google. Can this be?

At the end of last week two Parlamentarians, Andreas Schwab, a member of the center-right European People’s Party, and Ramon Tremosa of Spain, a member of the Parliament’s Liberal group, came up with a “potion magique” to resolve the matter. According to that resolution the two good MEPs call the Commission “to consider proposals with the aim of unbundling search engines from other commercial services as one potential long-term solution”.  So basically, what they suggest is to break up Google Search from Google Ads as business units.

“We want fair and neutral search in the interest of consumers. Unbundling is one of the ideas but we proposed several ideas of solutions that are on the table”, they underline. They believe that “the mechanism would hinder Google from applying the ranking algorithms that it currently uses. Thereby, it would be guaranteed that users receive relevant results while benefiting from greater choice”. Also they find it “essential that competition within the EU is not obstructed by multinational Internet companies that possess a dominant position”. But is it valid for two MEPs to suggest the breakup of a company when they are not able to understand or find a better way to solve it constructively both for the consumer and the market?

It seems that not even the two politicians have so much confidence in their resolution. Last Monday they issued a common statement on the matter that goes like this: “Tremosa and Schwab are not ideological against Google! We are against monopolies. Unbundling is one of the ideas but we proposed several”. Moreover, antitrust Commissioner Vestager said through her spokesperson: “We are committed to ensuring fair competition in the markets they are active in. Commissioner Vestager will decide on how to take the ongoing antitrust investigations into Google’s business practices forward, once she has heard what those most directly affected by the practices in question have to say” . Obviously it is in the Commission’s interest to maintain a balanced approach on this one.

Even though Google made no comment or official statement on the proposal issued by the two MEPs, the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), lobby organisation of which Google is a member, argues: “this motion, especially if passed by Parliament, threatens to undermine the credibility of a long running Commission investigation by blatantly interjecting politics into a legal process”…“Even though this motion is clearly directed at one company, the approach taken in this motion—and the politics surrounding the Google competition case in general—has wider implications and threatens the entire Internet economy”.

Who is right here? Two MEPs that don’t even believe in their drafted proposal or a lobby organisation? The truth as always in Brussels lies somewhere in the middle. While it is always good that the Parliament creates awareness and noise on matters that are of the EU citizen’s interest, it is absolutely the Commission’s job to examine the matter thoroughly and not let it linger like the team of Mr Almunia did.

The MEP’s proposal is expected to be discussed today in Strasbourg and the EU Parliament to vote on it tomorrow. While it will be interesting to see the outcome of this new anti-Google campaign, we would like to hope that this Commission will be able to put a fair closure on the matter soon and not wait again another 4 years for the new new Commissioner to come.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

UN human rights chief denounces grave ‘assaults’ on fundamental rights of Palestinian people

Solitary Britain sides with US aggressing Russia and chooses hard Brexit

State aid: Commission invites comments on simplified rules for State aid combined with EU support

The energy industry is changing. Are governments switched on?

Countries must up their game to reduce low birth weights, warns UN-backed report

Trump: Hostile to Europe, voids Tillerson’s “ironclad” ally pledge

The impact of COVID-19 on the life of the elderly

UN aid teams scramble to reach ‘most remote places’ cut off by Cyclone Kenneth in Mozambique

Nearly 900 children released by north-east Nigeria armed group

Trade Committee advocates lower tariffs in Western Sahara

5 post-COVID trends from Indian entrepreneurs

Rights experts call for greater protection of indigenous people during migration

Can I still send mail in the time of coronavirus?

FROM THE FIELD: Powering up health care in Sub-Saharan Africa

Capitalism’s greatest weakness? It confuses price with value

The Commission accused of tolerating corruption and fraud in taxation

4 key ways countries can finance their SDG ambitions

Digital Green Certificate is the right move but speeding up vaccination is key

UN chief praises Malaysia’s death penalty repeal as ‘major step forward’

‘Eco-shaming’ is on the rise, but does it work?

Population in crisis hit EU countries will suffer for decades

Total US cases quadruple in one week – Today’s coronavirus updates

How blockchain can manage the future electricity grid

The EU threatens to impose extra import duties on Chinese products

CLIMATE CHANGE FOCUS: The fruits of sustainability and decent work

Venezuelan crisis: MEPs reaffirm their support for Juan Guaidó

Brexit: European Commission recommends the European Council (Article 50) to endorse the agreement reached on the revised Protocol on Ireland / Northern Ireland and revised Political Declaration

Banks must take bold action to fight climate change. This is how they can do it

The Collapse of the Brazilian Health Care System

UN working to prevent attacks on civilians in eastern DR Congo

Adjust UN force in Abyei to current realities, peacekeeping chief urges Security Council

Sweden has a plan to end all traffic accident deaths

The zero that every investment portfolio needs

UN ‘prioritizing needs’, ramping up aid, as Hurricane Dorian continues to batter the Bahamas

Chatterbox Rome Declaration cannot save the EU; Germany has to pay more to do that

4 fixes for equipment supply chains before the next COVID-19 waves hit

IMF: The global economy keeps growing except Eurozone

Climate finance for developing countries reached USD 71 billion in 2017

The Mobile World Congress in Shanghai will take place on 27-29 June 2018

Women in leadership: closing the gender gap in medicine

Why trust and technology go hand-in-hand

Growing a future free of terrorism: UN News special report from Cameroon

The world needs carbon-neutral flying. Here’s how to bring it one step closer

Economic sentiment and business climate stagnate in miserable euro area

Water pollution is killing millions of Indians. Here’s how technology and reliable data can change that

The two big uncertainties shaping our future

‘Water-forecasting’ and fish farms fed on waste: how innovation is driving the blue economy

Blockchain is facing a backlash. Can it survive?

Creating zero-emission aviation with hydrogen and electric power

COVID-19: Commission creates first ever rescEU stockpile of medical equipment

Taxation: Commission refers Poland to Court for failing to remove certain tax exemptions on the use of energy products by highly polluting businesses

A new roadmap for corporate climate governance

It’s time to stop talking about ethics in AI and start doing it

These countries are driving global demand for coal

Protecting workers from biological agents: how to classify SARS-CoV-2

Don’t let smoking steal life’s breathtaking moments, urges UN health agency

Major humanitarian hub in north-east Nigeria burned in attack

From diamonds to recycling: how blockchain can drive responsible and ethical businesses

Migration Crisis: how to open the borders and make way for the uprooted

UN investigates systematic sexual violence across South Sudan

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s