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

No way out for Eurozone’s stagnating economy

COVID-19 lockdown hits working mothers harder than fathers

Global aid appeal targets more than 93 million most in need next year

The Commission favours the cultivation of more GMOs in Europe

Eurozone close to agreeing on a Banking Union

Boeing WTO case: The EU puts in place countermeasures against U.S. exports

GSMA outlines new developments for Mobile World Congress Shanghai 2018

“Only through energy policy we can trigger competitiveness”. The Sting live from #EBS2015: Energy Union – When will it happen?

The COP22 is under full deployment while Donald Trump threatens openly to withdraw the US from the Paris agreement

What cryptocurrencies will do to the integrity of politics

He died so I could live: UN peacekeeper pays tribute to fallen colleague

New tech infrastructure will help economies recover after COVID-19

We can’t tell if we’re closing the digital divide without more data

Embracing technology as a service will fuel the circular economy. Here’s how.

Migration situation at the Greek-Turkish border: ensuring the right to asylum

Airships, solar planes and Soviet-era sea skimmers … here’s how we fix air travel

The EU spent €158 billion on vague, open-ended rural projects

The Parliament sets the way for the European Banking Union

The challenge to be a good healthcare professional

Intel @ European Business Summit 2014: Better decisions now, the new business dashboard 

‘The time for action is now’ senior UN peacekeeping official says, urging support for regional force combating Sahel terrorism

Europe turns out more jobs this summer

EU-U.S. Privacy Shield: Second review shows improvements but a permanent Ombudsperson should be nominated by 28 February 2019

Asylum: MEPs call for more solidarity among EU member states

Why and How: Advocating for the inclusion of Palliative Care in Universal Health Care

The European Parliament declares climate emergency

EU citizens want more competences for the EU to deal with crises like COVID-19

Further reforms in Japan needed to meet the challenges of population ageing and high public debt

EU budget deal struck with Parliament negotiators

China Unlimited: the dragon’s long and winding road

Why precision medicine won’t transform healthcare – but governance could

A 10-step plan to save our seas

Is this a turning point in the fight against slavery?

‘No safe way’ into battle-scarred Afghan city of Ghazni to deliver aid as traumatized children search for parents

The new era of Matriarchy?

Why the 21st century’s biggest health challenge is our shared responsibility

Top global firms commit to tackling inequality by joining Business for Inclusive Growth coalition

Estonia is making public transport free

Why embracing human rights will ensure Artificial Intelligence works for all

The financial world upside-down: debt failure closer

Rise in violent conflict shows prevention ‘more necessary than ever’: UN chief

Sweden is fighting loneliness by housing older and younger generations together

Joint advocacy letter template to sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

Quicker freezing and confiscation of criminal assets to fight organised crime

Five years on from ISIL ‘caliphate’ proclamation in Iraq, Security Council makes first-ever visit

End racist discrimination against Afro-European people in the EU

Deal on EU funds for common asylum, migration and integration policies up to 2027

Climate change is threatening Switzerland’s stunning scenery

Global spotlight on world drug problem ‘is personal’ for many families, says UN chief

Dare to be vulnerable, and three other lessons in leadership

Two States ‘side-by-side’ is the ‘peaceful and just solution’ for Israel-Palestine conflict: Guterres

How do we upskill a billion people by 2030? Leadership and collaboration will be key

November infringements package: key decisions

Capitalism’s greatest weakness? It confuses price with value

End ‘political opportunism’ that’s letting hate speech flourish, urges top UN genocide official

Security Council discusses chemical weapons use in Syria following latest global watchdog report

Safe spaces offer security and dignity for youth, and help make the world ‘better for all’: Guterres

Change is happening – and young people are leading the way forward

Which country offers the cheapest mobile data?

Finnish Council Presidency priorities debated in plenary

More Stings?

Advertising

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