Oh, well, you are wrong, Google responds to the European Commission

Google EU Antitrust CaseMany months post the European Commission filed formal antitrust actions against Google, the American tech-giant issued its response to the Commission last week. Google, which has always denied the European Union’s antitrust charges, this time decided to formalise its response and speak wide open.

In short, the high interests and the enormous weight the case has in antitrust files in Europe, have been stamped by Google in a 150 pages document, and then condensed into a post that appeared on Google’s European blog last Thursday.

Google attacks

“We’ve taken seriously the concerns in the European Commission’s Statement of Objections (SO) that our innovations are anti-competitive”, declared Kent Walker, Senior Vice President and General Counsel at Google, to open the company’s statement on their official blog. “The response we filed today shows why we believe those allegations are incorrect, and why we believe that Google increases choice for European consumers and offers valuable opportunities for businesses of all sizes”, he added.

Mr. Walker basically resumed the case where it was left a few months ago, when the European Commission formally opened the Google’s case, alleging the company’s search results unfairly favoured its own shopping services over third-party sites. “The SO says that Google’s displays of paid ads from merchants (and, previously, of specialized groups of organic search results) “diverted” traffic away from shopping services”, said Walker. “But the SO doesn’t back up that claim, doesn’t counter the significant benefits to consumers and advertisers, and doesn’t provide a clear legal theory to connect its claims with its proposed remedy”.

Five-year investigation

It is evident how Google now wants to formally attack the accusations by the European Commission, without leaving any space for doubts or misunderstanding. But the question here is whether it is now too late to convince the European watchdog. The antitrust charge followed a five-year investigation by the EU against the company and came to the formal EU conclusion that Google harms both its rivals and consumers with unfair competition.

EU concerns

Google now says that all accusations by the European Commission are situated far from reality, and that its shopping service not only gives fair space to all competitors, but indeed benefits customers and businesses without unlawfully distorting the market. Back in April, EU’s Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager  felt “concerned that the company has given an unfair advantage to its own comparison shopping service, in breach of EU antitrust rules”. She also said that “Google now has the opportunity to convince the Commission to the contrary”.

“We don’t think this format is anti-competitive”, now Mr. Walker responds to Commissioner Vestager’s concerns. “On the contrary, showing ads based on structured data provided by merchants demonstrably improves ad quality and makes it easier for consumers to find what they’re looking for. We show these ad groups where we’ve always shown ads […] and we use specialised algorithms to maximize their relevance for users. Data from users and advertisers confirms they like these formats. That’s not ‘favoring’ – that’s giving our customers and advertisers what they find most useful”.

A brief analysis

Even if we assumed that all that Mr. Walker says is true, an important observation is due here. Google says its online-shopping service has indeed advantaged competitors, rather than damaging them. Mr. Walker, for instance, underlined how web traffic to other price-comparison sites has been increased by 227% over the past decade, and how Google delivered more than 20 billion free clicks to aggregators over the last decade in the countries covered by the SO. However, he never mentioned how Google’s own traffic has increased in the same time frame, or how the data collection has improved. It is only through the data a dominant firm collects, and the more users it gets, that it can improve its service, and to extend its lead over rivals. This, we believe, is a crucial point.

High-priced risks

Commissioner Vestager’s spokesperson Ricardo Cardoso confirmed she had received Google’s reply. Mr. Walker concluded the statement on Google’s blog saying that they “look forward to discussing our response and supporting evidence with the Commission”. “We will carefully consider Google’s response before taking any decision on how to proceed and do not want to prejudge the final outcome of the investigation”, EU’s Cardoso replied.

Now it is high time to see what impact Google’s clear-cut reply will have. If found guilty of violating EU law, the Mountain View, California-based company, could face fines of up to €6 billion, roughly 10 percent of the company’s operating revenue. That’s certainly no peanuts at all.

The European Sting will keep following this important case.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Featured Stings

A Young entrepreneur cries out: “start in Europe, stay in Europe”

For the future of Europe youth remains a priority

ECB ready to counter the rise of the euro?

Galileo funding: A ‘small’ difference of €700 million

Commission challenges Council over EU 2014 budget

The refugee crisis brings to light EU’s most horrible flaws and nightmares

UN-based World Summit Award (WSA) presents its master list on digital innovation with impact on society from 24 countries

Predicting two more years of economic stagnation

Why Eurozone urgently needs the ECB to print and distribute at least €500 billion

Economic recovery won’t tackle youth unemployment problem

The Americans are preparing for the next financial crisis

The Irish Presidency bullies the Parliament over EU budget

Commission to decide on bank resolution issues

Cancer research put at risk by General Data Protection Regulation? The possible dangers of a data privacy EU mania

European Union disenchanted with Turkey

European Banking Union: no one is perfect

US – Russia bargain on Syria, Ukraine but EU kept out

Paris, Washington, IMF against Berlin and ECB on money and interest

How I met the Panda Woman

Why do thousands of migrants need to be drowned for Brussels to wake up?

Greece and Ukraine main items on EU28 menu; the course is set

China’s New Normal and Its Relevance to the EU

EU seeks foreign support on 5G from Mobile World Congress 2015 as the “digital gold rush” begins

The developing countries keep the world going

What do Europeans believe about the crisis and the possible way out?

UN Environment Assembly 2017: where the world convenes to #BeatPollution

Meet the Junior Enterprise network at JEWC 2014!

Irish Presidency: Not a euro more for EU budgets

Berlin vies for a Germanic European Central Bank

Mood changes in Europe in favour of growth and jobs

European Energy Union: Integration of markets and need for in-house energy production

Is Eurozone heading towards a long stagnation?

Brexit mission impossible: Theresa May was so desperate that had to appoint Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary

Mobile young people create the European labour market of tomorrow

EU’s tougher privacy rules: WhatsApp and Facebook set to be soon aligned with telcos

Brexiteer May gets lip-service from Trump and Turkish promises from Erdogan

Dreaming of China

Horse meat runs faster than authorities…

Why France, Italy and the US press Germany to accept a cheaper euro and pay for Greece

The European Parliament x-rays the troika’s doings

Azeri natural gas will keep the EU warm soon

EU Parliament: ECB accountable for not supporting real economy

Does Switzerland really need more medical students?

Syria: A bloody tracer of Trump – Putin rapprochement

Reality Shock

Global Citizen – Volunteer Internships

French election: Will France vote for a reformed or no EU?

Merkel had it her way with the refugees & immigrants but can Greece and Turkey deliver?

EU Migrant Crisis: Italian Coast Guard Headquarters and Italian Navy to give host national opening addresses at Border Security 2016 in Rome

MWC 2016 LIVE: Stripe gives payments leg-up to startups in emerging markets

EU fight against tax-evasion and money laundering blocked by Britain

The EU pollution rights trading system frozen

MWC 2016 LIVE: T-Mobile US reveals 5G trial plans

Youth policy in Europe not delivering for young people

Climate change and health: public health awareness in an international framework

EU free-trade agreements with Canada and US: imagine the fallout if put to national referendums

Why growth is now a one way road for Eurozone

What our leaders hide from us

A European Discovers China: 3 First Impressions

EU Council: The US airlines may freely pollute the European air

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 )

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s