Hurry up and just SLAP GOOGLE, MEPs fume at EU commish

Powerless reps rage at their own machine

Google HQ logo. Pic: Bob Dormon

The European Parliament took the EU’s executive arm to task on Tuesday for failing to give Google a good kicking resolve the ongoing investigation into Google’s alleged abuse of dominance in the search market.

In a statement endorsed by members of the European Parliament (MEPs), it welcomed “further investigations into Google's practices in the mobile sector and in the digital market in general”, but pointed out that “despite four years of investigation and three sets of commitment proposals, the Commission has achieved no demonstrable results in addressing the main competition concern in its antitrust case against Google [namely] the preferential treatment by Google of its own services in displaying results of search queries".

Most of the blame for the inertia has been laid at the feet of former Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia, who spent years going over a whopping three revised offers from Google and left office with the matter still unresolved.

Now the EU parliament is putting pressure on his successor Margarethe Vestager, who took over from him in November, to put the Google case to bed and “act decisively on all concerns that have been identified and to find a long-term solution for a balanced, fair and open internet search structure.”

MEPs believe that effective scrutiny of dominant firms like the search behemoth and quick retaliation for abuses are the only way to stop internet monsters from pushing out small and innovative competitors.

“If the European Commission wants to remain credible on the digital agenda strategy, it must solve the Google antitrust case. Enough time has been lost. It's time for action. Without any pressure, Google has no intention of changing. Only with the threat of a fine or a regulation on unbundling, will Google finally move,” said Catalan MEP Ramon Tremosa.

In late November Tremosa was behind a bizarre vote in the parliament to “break up Google”. His proposal encouraged the EU Commission to force the Chocolate Factory into unbundling search from its other services. MEPs backed him despite having no say whatsoever in resolving EU antitrust cases. ®

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