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Commission sends Statement of Objections to Google

The European Commission has sent a Statement of Objections to Google alleging the company has abused its dominant position in the markets for general internet search services in the European Economic Area (EEA). According to the Commission Google is systematically favoring its own comparison shopping product in its general search results pages. Such conducts infringes EU antitrust rules because it stifles competition and harms consumers.

Comparison shopping products allow consumers to search for products on online shopping websites and compare prices between different vendors. Google’s’ own shopping product (currently called ‘Google Shopping’) currently works in a way in which it shows “Google Shopping” more prominently on the screen. It may therefore artificially divert traffic from rival comparison shopping services and hinder their ability to compete on the market.

Commissions’ concern is that users do not necessarily see the most relevant results in response to queries – this is to the detriment of consumers, and stifles innovation. The Commission’s preliminary view is that to remedy such conduct, Google should treat its own comparison shopping service and those of rivals in the same way.

EU Commissioner in charge of competition policy Margrethe Vestager said: “The Commission’s objective is to apply EU antitrust rules to ensure that companies operating in Europe, wherever they may be based, do not artificially deny European consumers as wide a choice as possible or stifle innovation. In the case of Google I am concerned that the company has given an unfair advantage to its own comparison shopping service, in breach of EU antitrust rules. Google now has the opportunity to convince the Commission to the contrary. However, if the investigation confirmed our concerns, Google would have to face the legal consequences and change the way it does business in Europe.”

Sources: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-15-4780_en.htm

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-15-4781_en.htm

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