Google’s bare truth: Europe’s Chief denies EU accusations but admits they “don’t always get it right”

Matt_Brittin_

Matt Brittin is Google’s new chief for Europe (Wikimedia)

When back in April the European Commission formally filed a complaint against Google it was clear that the action could have turned the page of the whole “EU vs Google” case. But after the tech giant responded and set out the initial arguments against the Commission’s findings, almost immediately, no further discussion about the thorny matter followed. Until now.

“We don’t always get it right”

Google’s chief executive for Europe Matt Brittin gave the company’s first public statement on the EU antitrust case last week, and his words were very clear. “We don’t always get it right”. “As far as Europe is concerned: we get it. We understand that people here are not the same in their attitudes to everything as people in America”, Brittin revealed to Politico newspaper in an interview published last Thursday.

A failure in communication

What Mr. Brittin basically acknowledged was that Google and its people had failed to explain its business and vision to policymakers in Brussels and elsewhere in Europe. This kind of recognition, which basically tells that Google, probably one of the most innovative companies in the world, failed in communication, is a big deal on its own. Google’s executive openly stressed that Google should better explain how it benefits Europe’s economy, culture and small enterprises, and admitted that something went very wrong in the past.

He also conceded that Google was short on staff in Europe, and so it failed to understand on time Europe’s position and objections. “We just didn’t have the people on the ground to be able to have some of those conversations as we grew”, he said during last week’s interview. How pragmatic is that?

Google’s lifting

Matt Brittin’s appointment as Google’s European President, a new position created to unify Google’s operations here in the Old Continent, tells how the Mountain View, California-based company is now trying to adjust its public image. Google is trying to re-shape the strong “American-rooted Silicon Valley image” that still has here in Europe, which basically represents a risk for the company’s plan – and might be worth billions.

The risk is that, if Google will not adjust its mindset in Europe to be more aware of the differences between the European and the American markets, to rephrase what Mr. Brittin says, the history of legal cases between the EU and the tech giant could become even longer.

Risks and opportunities

Brittin said Google should better explain how it benefits Europe. He also explained that a lot of time is now being spent trying to better explain the company’s business and vision to policymakers in Brussels and how it “benefits Europe’s economy, culture and small enterprises”.

That is exactly how his role as president for Europe reflects this strong will of reform. Freshly appointed Brittin, a former publishing executive, which was chosen after eight years in the company, is clearly trying to take a much more diplomatic approach to solve the controversy in Europe and possibly find a positive equilibrium with the EU.

A firm denial

But despite this new vision, Google’s European CEO obviously found the chance to dismiss the European Commission’s charges, of course. Mr. Brittin stressed Google’s disagreement with the accusations, repeating that, with the boom of mobile devices, the American search engine is not nearly as dominant as it used to be in the past. “There is no evidence that consumers have been harmed here, and actually no evidence that complainants have been harmed,” he said. He was also quick to point out that many of the complainants “are US companies or backed by US companies”.

Obsolete accusations

Mr. Brittin said during the interview how he believes the European Commission’s accusations are basically out of date, as the mobile ecosystem is quickly shifting. “Over that five-year period the world’s changed, right; we’ve all got the entire internet in our pocket,” he said. “There is a big shift in how we’re accessing information and I think there has never been a more competitive time than this in terms of the choices that consumers have”, he added.

Google, which dominates the European search market holding a desktop search share of more than 91%, has been accused of several different anticompetitive practices in Europe over the past five years. Claims include that Google has been abusing its monopoly to gain leverage in the European market and displaying its services more prominently than competitive ones.

Matt Brittin declared that, while the search engine disagrees with the accusations, it remains open to a settlement agreement with the EU. The European Sting will keep monitoring the question closely.

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

Coronavirus: Commission proposes a Digital Green Certificate

LUX Audience Award 2021 goes to Collective

EU launches WTO dispute against discriminatory procurement by Russian State-owned enterprises

Congrats to the #FutureofMalta: a new age of voting

Christine Lagarde: This is what we can still learn from the Great War

What the future holds for the EU – China relations?

Protect women’s rights ‘before, during and after conflict’ UN chief tells high-level Security Council debate

Is sub-Saharan Africa ready for the electric vehicle revolution?

Predatory labour taxation not an issue for the Commission

UN sounds alarm as Venezuelan refugees and migrants passes three million mark

Blockchain is becoming key for global trade – but is that a gift for hackers?

State aid: Commission expands Temporary Framework to further support micro, small and start-up companies and incentivise private investments

Delivering masks across borders: EU Single Market protecting citizens’ health

Eurozone again whipped by Greek winds

The world invested almost $2 trillion in energy last year. These 3 charts show where it went

It is me

On the detention of children in the United States of America

Yemen: UN envoy asks Security Council for more support ‘to move back’ to the negotiating table

Lithuania finds the ways to maintain its energy security

What is hydroponics – and is it the future of farming?

What will it take for the world’s third-largest economy to empower women?

Brazil identifies a clear pathway for aligning its transfer pricing framework with the OECD standard

How the EU sees its own and Russia’s role in Ukraine

Reasons to hope and reasons to keep perspective on a vaccine

MEPs and European Youth Forum call on EU to Invest in Youth

Why it’s good to turn your colleagues into friends

The historical performance of women in human health

Is it too soon to hope for a tobacco free Romania?

Negative inflation hits Eurozone, ECB to print and distribute one trillion euro earlier than expected

How COVID-19 has affected our sleep

The patient, the doctor, the students and the overcrowded room

The circular economy transition is a multi-million opportunity for Africa – here’s why

Coronavirus: following Commission’s call, platforms remove millions of misleading ads

Trump goes ahead with plan to undo globalization; targets China and EU

Women to save Europe’s own labour resources

UN gender agency hails record-breaking number of women in new US Congress as ‘historic victory’

EU consumer rules: Airbnb cooperates with European Commission and EU consumer authorities improving the way it presents offers

What would happen if we removed cars from cities?

Mental health and suicide prevention

European Parliament speaks out against “killer robots”

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

UN chief ‘alarmed’ by violations of UN-backed ceasefire in Libya

A Sting Exclusive: “Europe needs decisive progress for stronger cybersecurity”, EU Commissioner Gabriel highlights from Brussels

Why growth is now a one way road for Eurozone

Team Europe: EU provides €100 million to Mozambique for education, health and social protection

Turkey presents a new strategy for EU accession but foreign policy could be the lucky card

THE ROAD TO GANESHA

Country origin ‘best predictor of outcome’ for children with cancer, UN experts say

A new tidal energy project just hit a major milestone in Scotland

Some 300,000 Venezuelan children in Colombia need humanitarian assistance; UNICEF looks to boost response funding

French full-body veil ban, violated women’s freedom of religion: UN Human Rights Committee

UNESCO lists wrestling, reggae and raiho-shin rituals as global treasures to be preserved

Are the G20 leaders ready to curb corporate tax-avoidance?

Manufacturing reimagined: from improved productivity to profitable growth

Poland: €676 million worth of EU investments in better rails and roads

UN launches innovative programme to detect and disrupt terrorist travel

To realise the full potential of AI, we must regulate it differently

Coronavirus Global Response: WHO and Commission launch the Facilitation Council to strengthen global collaboration

6 surprising side effects of this year’s global heatwave

More efforts needed to boost trust in business and finance

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