Amazon, Luxembourg and Ireland hit by EU’s latest turn of the screw over competition

Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner for Competition, in Brussels - Berlaymont, last week. (Copyright European Union, 2017 / Source: EC - Audiovisual Service / Photo: Lukasz Kobus)

Last week, the European Commission has ordered Amazon to pay a 250 million euros ($293 million) bill in back taxes to Luxembourg, as a consequence of “undue tax benefits”. The Commission also announced that it is planning to take the Irish government to European court over its failure to recover €13bn in unpaid taxes from […]

Knowledge management and entrepreneurship: short term vs. long term perspective

This article was exclusively written for the Sting by Mr Adrien Lepic, the Secretary General of the European Confederation of Junior Enterprises (JADE) for the 2017/2018 term (JADE). The opinion expressed in this piece belongs to the writer and does not necessarily reflect The European Sting’s one. In the business environment, there are new challenges everywhere and […]

EU’s Finance Ministers draft plan to raise tax bills of online giants like Google and Amazon

Digital multinationals such as Amazon, Facebook and Google may face higher tax bills in the European Union as a new plan for harmonised tax treatment of online companies has been discussed by EU Finance Ministers on Saturday. French finance minister Bruno Le Maire led the initiative and claimed on Friday nearly one third of EU […]

Europe’s top court hears Intel and sends € 1.06 bn antitrust fine to review

Last week the European Court of Justice, Europe’s highest court, ruled that US chipmaker Intel’s € 1.06 billion ($1.26 billion) antitrust fine be re-examined by a lower court. The ECJ found that the General Court, which upheld the hefty fine imposed on Intel by the Commission for abuse of a dominant position in the market, […]

Brussels Vs. Google: The €1 bn EU fine and the US response

The European Commission is about to impose more than one billion euros fine to Google as a result of online shopping service search abuse according to the Financial Times. If the above is implemented, it would be the highest penalty in the history of anti-competitive behavior after Intel’s case in 2009. The repercussions for Google, […]

EU Council agrees to reform the system for motor vehicles but with “restricted” power for the Commission

It was last Monday when the EU ministers gathered in Brussels to draft new rules to prevent future emissions cheating from the automotive companies after the VW emissions scandal. The Council of Ministers from 28 countries proposed rules for cutting down the national authorities’ power giving at the same time the ability to the European […]

EU and Amazon cut deal to end antitrust investigation over e-books deals

Last week the European Commission has communicated its decision to formally accept commitments by US tech giant Amazon to end an EU antitrust investigation over contracts with e-book publishers. The Seattle-based company has proposed to drop some clauses in its contracts that required publishers to inform about terms offered to the company’s competitors and to […]

EU to give more power to national antitrust authorities in a bid to secure regulatory fines

Last week, the European Commission has proposed a new set of rules to give national antitrust authorities more power and resources against anti-competitive practices. The proposed rules, which followed a public consultation that was launched last year, are intended to make the bloc’s national competition agencies more autonomous but also more reactive against multinational firms […]

VW emissions scandal: While U.S. car owners are vindicated, Europe still unable to change its laws and protect its consumers

Volkswagen, the giant German automaker, has pleaded guilty to criminal charges in a Detroit federal court last Friday to conspiracy to defraud the U.S., commit wire fraud, and violate the Clean Air Act, obstruction of justice and import violations. However, VW still denies compensating European car owners arguing that a ‘technical fix’ can make cars […]

Digital Single Market: New EU rules for online subscription services

EU Regulators have found last week an agreement on new rules concerning online content portability, allowing EU citizens to access online subscription services with no restrictions while travelling within the Union. The new rules will practically end the so-called “geo-blocking tactics”, and will enable European consumers to access services such as Netflix, Sky’s Now and Spotify […]

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

With an official statement, the European Commission last week published its proposal to reform the existing European online privacy rules. Companies such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Google will face tougher rules on the tracking of users under a wider update of the e-privacy directive, which will also impact cookies regulation. The EU says the new […]

How did Facebook fool the Commission that easily during the WhatsApp acquisition?

The European Commission announced yesterday that a Statement of Objections was sent to Facebook accusing the company of providing incorrect or misleading information during the investigation under Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp. The aforementioned information was that Facebook had initially reassured the EC that it was not possible to match the user accounts of Facebook and WhatsApp. However, […]

Google strongly rejects EU antitrust charges and now gets ready for the worst to come

Last Thursday Google officially responded to the antitrust charges by the European Union relating to its shopping search and AdSense. Having been given an extra week to formally respond to allegations by the Commission, Google produced the strongest reply of its give-and-take history with European Regulators. The US technology giant this time is hitting back […]

An American duel in Brussels: Salesforce against Microsoft over Linkedin deal

When earlier this year Microsoft snapped up the world’s headlines by announcing it would have acquired LinkedIn with a colossal $26.2 billion deal, everyone was already preparing for the shockwaves this move would have generated. Last week, US cloud computing company Salesforce.com  openly urged European Union regulators to block the acquisition over unfair competition concerns. […]

Deutsche Bank again in the middle of the US-EU economic skirmishes

The US government is reacting in many ways against the fine in back taxes of €13 billion which the European Commission imposed on Apple. Firstly, Jack Lew, the American Secretary of the Treasury, accused the EU of grabbing tax incomes which belong to the US. On 31st August he said, “What’s not appropriate is for, […]

EU is now giving Google new monopolies to the detriment of European citizens and Internet companies

This article was exclusively written for The Sting by Mr Joe McNamee, Executive Director of  EDRi, the Brussels-based association of civil and human rights organisations from across Europe that defends rights and freedoms in the digital environment. There is a lot of noise in the press and among lobbyists about an alleged hostility of the EU towards big American internet […]

EU’s guidelines on net neutrality see the light although grey areas do remain

Last week will not only be remembered for the world-record fine imposed to Apple by the European Union and the Hutchison-VimpelCom merger in Italy. There was also space for some important news on net neutrality. The Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC), which is the regulating agency of the telecommunication market in the […]

Can the EU really make Google and Facebook pay publishers and media?

According to a number of media outlets of the Old Continent, the closing weeks of this summer will try to bring a major reform in the European publishing industry. As revealed last week by the Guardian and the Financial Times, the European Commission is working on a plan to give news publishers the right to demand […]

VW emissions scandal: EU unable to protect its consumers against large multinationals

  European governments and officials seem incompetent to protect on the one hand their car consumers and on the other the environment, despite the crucial role Europe played in the climate change agreement that was signed last December in Paris. VW’s diesel emissions scandal has revealed so far that the multinational framework in Europe is much more beneficial for […]

The EU finally seizes the opportunity to support the sharing economy?

Last week, the much awaited response around the fate of the so-called “sharing economy” in Europe arrived from Brussels, and big players such as Uber and Airbnb can finally take a sigh of relief. On June 2 the European Union came up with a list of guiding principles for its Member States on how to “engage […]

Google once more under EU crossfire from a possible record fine and new Right to be forgotten case

Many years have passed but the controversial conflict between the European Commission and Google doesn’t seem to be reaching any equilibrium. Indeed the long story is now ready to land to a new turning point. According to the Sunday Telegraph, Google may soon be hit with a 3 billion euros ($3.4 billion) fine by the European Commission for market monopoly, […]

Vestager vs. Google: a fight to ensure a competitive innovation framework

The EU Consumer and Competition Day took place yesterday in Amsterdam with Margrethe Vestager to reveal her will to charge Google for exploiting consumers by pre-installing Android apps on their smartphones. European Commission (EC) is showing its teeth once again, after Microsoft antitrust case a decade ago, against giant tech companies which are finding ways […]

After swallowing effortlessly the right to be forgotten time for Google Ads now to behave

2016 is not yet 60 days old and it already seems that this will be another tough year for Google in the EU. Only days after the world learned that Google swallowed the right to be forgotten effortlessly by hiding search results from all its websites to better appease the European Union’s privacy regulators, the news broke out that […]

Starbucks and FIAT again under Commission’s microscope: is Europe ready to kick multinationals out of the house?

Some multinationals (MNEs) such as FIAT and Starbucks have been overdoing it in the EU for quite some time now. The case of tax investigation of the aforementioned companies on whether they have paid the correct amount of corporate income tax or not is ongoing for over a year now. The Commissioner responsible for Competition, Mrs […]

Google and Apple suddenly realise that doing business in EU is tough?

Last week was definitely a reference for digital European Union. For those who have felt that the European Commission has specifically targeted Google for some reason, or are particularly interested in the impact that regulators can have on big companies like Google last week must have truly paid off in terms of newsfeed. The Google bias? Let’s start with Google’s story. Last week, European Competition Commissioner […]

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

Many 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 […]

Nokia wins Commission’s approval for Alcatel-Lucent acquisition: a new way for antitrust cases?

The European Commission has given unconditional approval last Friday to the proposed acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent by Nokia, under the EU Merger Regulation. The 15.6 billion-euro merger with the French-American global telecommunications equipment company was announced by Nokia around 1 pm, last Friday, and later on by the European Commission through an official press release. No competition […]

It’s EU vs. Google for real: the time is now, the case is open

As anticipated by the European Sting in a latest Sting of the day last week on Google’s antitrust case in Europe, the European Commission did take finally formal actions and filed a complaint against the Northern American tech giant, alleging the company’s search results unfairly favoured its own shopping services over third-party sites. The antitrust charge followed a five-year […]

On Google antitrust case: “Let’s face it, some companies want to hurt Google and it goes as simple as that”

After 5 long lingering years a bit of light will be cast on Google’s antitrust case in Europe. Former Commissioner Joaquin Almunia for Competition failed to resolve the matter successfully during his term, going back and forth numerous times. Like a modern Pontius Pilate who “washed his hands”, the Spanish politician, who launched the Google investigation back […]

Benjamin Franklin was wrong: Amazon can tax evade

“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes”, Benjamin Franklin said back in the 18th century. Three hundred years later in principle it maintains validity, when it comes to the former. Of course for most developed societies tax is a de facto obligation of the citizen. Most of us we […]