Today, a European Union court upholds the 2017 ruling that Google’s actions were anticompetitive, reaffirming the $2.8 billion fine. The American multinational technology company thereby lost the appeal case.
The EU’s Court in Luxembourg backed an antitrust ruling by EU competition regulators in 2017 that the Alphabet Inc. search engine infringed antitrust laws by pushing users to its own comparison-shopping advertising at the expense of competitor shopping services.
The penalty against Google was the largest at the time and the first in a series of judgments that are at the heart of EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager’s efforts to reign in big tech’s expanding dominance.
The decision strengthens the EU’s fight against internet behemoths, which has prompted other global antitrust regulators, including the US, to join in. It may also aid smaller businesses in pursuing multimillion-dollar damages suits in national courts, alleging that Google harmed their fledgling company.
The outcome may also influence Amazon.com Inc., Apple Inc., and Meta Platforms Inc.’s Facebook to reconsider how aggressively they oppose the EU in ongoing probes.
The court ruling comes as the EU attempts to develop new laws that will bind strong corporations. Those guidelines, which are currently in the last stages of discussion, were devised in response to regulators’ growing frustration with the inability of antitrust investigations to produce meaningful changes in big tech’s behavior.
In addition to the punishment, Google was ordered in 2017 to modify how it presents shopping search results, which might allow competitors to take advantage of precious ad space on search pages.
Smaller search engines have claimed that the EU has never pushed Google to go far enough to help them draw enough traffic. Officials from the EU claimed that all they can do is set the environment for businesses to compete.
In September, the Alphabet Inc. business moved back to court to challenge the second of the EU’s three fines, a record-breaking 4.3 billion-euro penalty targeted at Google’s Android mobile phone system, and an order that hit far closer to the heart of Google’s capacity to make money.