Google rivals: Search giant’s antitrust fix worse than Almunia’s settlement
A group of Google opponents are stepping up their attacks on Google’s response to a €2.42 billion antitrust sanction, warning the European Commission against using “ineffective” changes to Google Shopping as a model to tackle areas like local or travel search.
“In our view, Google’s current remedy proposal is no better than Google’s Commitment proposals under [former competition] Commissioner [Joaquín] Almunia, and in some ways may be worse,” 19 entities wrote in a letter addressed today to his successor Margrethe Vestager. The signatories include the Open Internet Project, the Association of German Newspaper Publishers, FairSearch and the European Technology and Travel Services Association.
Three draft settlements struck by Almunia with Google were widely criticized and came to symbolize the failings of the Commission’s long inquiry into Google.
When Vestager took over in 2014, she promptly changed course, eventually sanctioning Google last year and forcing it to alter the way it runs its shopping business.
“Google’s current remedy proposal has been in operation for more than four months, and the harm to competition, consumers and innovation caused by the infringement established by the decision has continued unabated,” the letter reads.
It points out that Google has not addressed the Commission finding that it demoted rival price comparison websites in its search rankings.
“It would be highly damaging to competition and consumers should the Commission attempt to resolve its ongoing investigations into Google’s similar anti-competitive conduct in other verticals with a Commitments Decision that is based on the same or similar ineffective ‘remedy.'”
Axel Springer, which co-owns POLITICO Europe, is a member of the Association of German Newspaper Publishers as well as the Open Internet Project.