Google faces record-breaking €1bn-plus EU fine in antitrust probe

European Commission is set to conclude its antitrust investigation into whether Google favoured its Google Shopping service in search results.
Written by Danny Palmer, Senior Writer

Google will face a record-breaking fine from the European Union, according to media reports.

Image: IStock

Google faces the prospect of a record-breaking fine of over €1bn from the European Union following an investigation into the web giant's market dominance and the way it operates.

A verdict on the first of three antitrust investigations into Google, due in the coming weeks, is expected to say the company has abused its power in the search market to favor its own Google Shopping service, according to the Financial Times.

Both the European Commission and Google have declined to comment on the reports of the fine, which if issued as reported, will be larger than the €1bn fine issued to Intel over unfair market domination practices.

In line with EU guidelines, the fine could potentially be priced at 10 percent of Google parent company Alphabet's annual revenue, which came to $90bn last year.

The antitrust investigation into Google's practices has been going for seven years and tensions between the US company and the European Union are high. In blog post written last November, Kent Walker, Google's general counsel, said the EU's case 'lacks evidence' and the claims against the company are wrong.

Google is highly likely to appeal against the decision, in a move that will extend the case for years to come. The European Commission is also examining whether Google unfairly bans competitors from websites that use its search and advertising services. Meanwhile a third case is investigating how Google limits phone providers that use its Android operating system and its Google Play app store.

Google is far from the only US tech giant to face EU antitrust investigations over its practices; Intel, Apple, Facebook and Amazon have also been investigated over a range of antitrust issues.

Just last year, the European Commission told Apple it should repay up to €13bn in taxes to Ireland, arguing the existing tax arrangements allowed the company to pay "substantially less tax" than other companies and were illegal under state aid rules.

In addition to the EU antitrust investigation, Google is in a court battle in Germany over the country's ancillary-copyright law, which allows publishers to charge search engines such as Google for using sections of their articles in news aggregators.

One silver lining for Google is that the European Commission is not investigating the company's tax arrangements.


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