The european Commission has imposed Wednesday for the third time in less than two years and a heavy fine to the american giant of internet Google, accusing him again of anti-competitive practices in the EU.
This time, the financial penalty amounted to 1.49 billion euros, a figure lower compared to the previous two, respectively two and three high.
The american giant of the internet is part of the firms most heavily sanctioned by the european commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager, since its entry into service in November 2014: in total, Google has been ordered to pay to the EU 8.25 billion euros, if you add up all the fines.
This announcement comes on the eve of the official launch by the european liberals (ALDE) to the application of the commissioner of the Danish, in the race for the succession of Jean-Claude Juncker to the presidency of the european Commission.
Ms. Vestager, nicknamed “the tax lady” by the american president Donald Trump after having called Apple to repay 14.3 billion euros of tax arrears in Ireland, is part of the current members of the Commission Juncker.
“I’m going to be active these next few months to persuade more voters to go and vote” at the european election in may, said Ms. Vestager, during the press conference, Google Wednesday, declining to say more about his ambitions.
Once more, it is forbidden to aim more specifically to u.s. companies. “If you don’t follow the rules, then you have a fine,’ she replied to a journalist, stressing that it had also penalised financially for several european manufacturers of trucks that had agreed unlawfully on prices.
– Call Google –
She has also recently banned the fusion of the european giants of the rail, Siemens and Alstom, provoking the wrath of Berlin and Paris.
In the specific case Wednesday regarding the advertising Google AdSense, Vestager accuses the u.s. have imposed a number of restrictive clauses in contracts with third-party websites (such as retailers, that is, lines or logs), thus preventing its competitors to place their contextual ads on these sites.
“Because of this behavior which has existed for more than 10 years, the other companies were denied the opportunity to compete on the basis of their merits, ( … ), and consumers have been deprived of the benefits of competition,” she explained.
Google responded in a measured way at this new punishment: “We have always agreed that markets healthy and prosperous are in the best interest of everyone,” said Kent Walker, head of international business of the group.
Mr. Walker also stated that Google had “already brought a wide range of changes to our products to meet the concerns of the Commission”.
“In the coming months, we will do other updates to give more visibility to our rivals in Europe,” he added.
During his press conference, Ms. Vestager was agreed that there were “positive developments” on the two earlier cases where it had condemned Google (Android and Shopping).
In July 2018, the group of Mountain View had been ordered to pay 4,34 billion euros –a record in the history of european competition– for having abused the dominant position of Android, the system free operating to smartphone, in order to establish the supremacy of its online search service.
And a year earlier, on 27 June 2017, it was a fine of 2.42 billion euros for having abused its dominant position in online search by promoting its price comparison “Google Shopping” to the detriment of competing services.
In both of these cases, Google has made a series of changes to the results from its european search engine to placate the EU and avoid further financial penalties.
But, he has appealed both decisions before the european Court of justice in Luxembourg.