Google defends its business as EU sanctions loom


At a press conference at 1100 BST today, it is expected that the European Union's competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, will outline the case against Google's dominant position in the search market.

It is likely to allege that the technology firm uses that position to direct search traffic to its own businesses, such as Google Shopping.

Some people call that market abuse, a claim Google firmly denies.

Although this is a significant moment, as with anything to do with the European Union, it is another stage in a slow process which is likely to take a number of years to resolve.

I first reported on the launch of the investigation back in 2010 before the last general election.

At that stage, Google wanted to resolve the issue by offering remedies on how it ordered search results.

It had seen how Microsoft had become bogged down in years of competition warfare with the European Union over how it "bundled" its products, and ended up being fined £1.5bn anyway.

Google's proposal was to make links to rival services much more prominent.

But with a legion of critics within European governments and across media and technology businesses, each attempt failed.

Rapid changes

The technology campaigning organisation, ICOMP, said of expected developments: "A statement of objections represents a formal finding by the Commission that Google is dominant and that its actions have caused harm to businesses and consumers in Europe.

"If confirmed, this is an important step towards a successful return to a fair and competitive online marketplace that will be welcomed by our members."

Unsurprisingly, Google does not concur. And in a leaked internal memo to "Googlers", it lays out its case.

At its simplest, Google says that "with competition just a click away", the notion of dominance in technology markets is different from, say, dominance in the energy market




Google defends its business as EU sanctions loom