Google loses challenge to €2.4bn EU fine

By Mark McSherry

Alphabet’s Google has lost an appeal against a €2.42 billion fine from the European Commission over competition concerns.

EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager fined Google in 2017 over the use of its own price comparison shopping service to gain an unfair advantage over smaller European rivals.

The decision is a big victory for Europe’s competition chief in the first of three court rulings that are crucial to the EU’s efforts to regulate big technology firms.

“The General Court largely dismisses Google’s action against the decision of the Commission finding that Google abused its dominant position by favouring its own comparison shopping service over competing comparison shopping services …” said the General Court of the European Union.

“The General Court upholds the fine of €2.42 billion imposed on Google …

“By decision of 27 June 2017, the Commission found that Google had abused its dominant position on the market for online general search services in 13 countries in the European Economic Area, by favouring its own comparison shopping service, a specialised search service, over competing comparison shopping services.

“The Commission found that the results of product searches made using Google’s general search engine were positioned and displayed in a more eye-catching manner when the results came from Google’s own comparison shopping service than when they came from competing comparison shopping services.

“Moreover, the latter results, which appeared as simple generic results (displayed in the form of blue links), were accordingly, unlike results fromGoogle’s comparison shopping service, prone to being demoted by adjustment algorithms inGoogle’s general results pages.

“In respect of that infringement, the Commission imposed a pecuniary penalty on Google of €2,424,495,000, of which €523,518,000 jointly and severally with Alphabet, its parent company.

“Google and Alphabet brought an action against the Commission’s decision before the General Court of the European Union.

“By its judgment today, the General Court dismisses for the most part the action brought by the two companies, and upholds the fine imposed by the Commission.”