Google overhauls European business in light of legal, regulatory pressure

Google is restructuring its European business units in the wake of growing regulatory and legal pressures.

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Google

Google is overhauling its European corporate structure in the face of stricter business conditions in the region.

The Mountain View, CA-based firm will merge two separate European arms, as reported by The Financial Times. Matt Brittin, the former leader of Google's northern and western European units, will take over the daily running of the new, unified business. Based in London, Brittin will oversee executives which lead individual countries.

Carlo D'Asaro Biondo, the former leader of Google's southern and eastern European arms, will now be responsible for Google's commercial relationships and partners in the EMEA region.

Announced in a speech in Brussels on Thursday, home of the European Commission, Brittin said the plans to unify the tech giant's operations will "enable the company to respond better to local conditions and opportunities," according to the publication.

The merge of each separate regional arm will give businesses a single point of contact, and may also assist the tech giant itself by pooling resources to deal with country-specific regulatory issues and evolving corporate trends. Google also plans to create a "single digital market," a concept already proposed by European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker -- a way to apply consistent regulations and rules which will span the firm's operations throughout the full region.

The announcement was followed up with a diplomatic blog post on Thursday by Brittin, who is now President of EMEA Business and Operations at Google. The Google executive said Google Play is a "huge growth engine" for European developers, and to encourage European businesses to join the Android ecosystem, the company plans to train one million Europeans in "crucial digital skills" by 2016.

In addition, the tech giant plans to invest an additional €25M in current Google training programmes to expand them in additional European markets -- giving small businesses the chance to "train [in] the digital skills they so need."

Google says it will launch a Europe-wide training hub to support businesses anywhere in Europe to get training online.

Brittin writes:

"For Europe to reach its full potential, we need to clear the way for companies online. We need a single market in the digital world that reflects the single market we enjoy in the physical world already. With over two dozen regulatory and frameworks to contend with, businesses stumble when they seek to sell, grow or hire across borders.

Some people look at the state of the economy in Europe and are pessimistic. We see something else: a huge diversity of businesses and entrepreneurs with creativity, ambition, and talent -- all using digital tools to create jobs and boost the economy."

According to the publication, the unit split was originally set to increase competition between each region. However, Brittin admitted that the business environment Google operates in today "is more complicated than five or six years ago," and such stunts might not be appropriate -- especially when regulators and other companies are complaining.

This is certainly the case. Google has come under pressure from a number of different sources, including regulatory bodies, courts and businesses over the past several years. One of the most famous examples is the "Right to be forgotten" court case, in which a European court ordered the company to de-list links on its search engine which can be deemed inaccurate, no longer relevant or out-of-date.

While European authorities have placed pressure on Google to do the same for its global .com domains, the firm has so far not capitulated.

However, this is far from the only issue Google is coping with in Europe. An ongoing antitrust case accuses Google of creating an unfair business environment through "vertical search," privacy-related lobbying cases and complaints are growing by the month, and the company's use of Dublin as a European headquarters to avoid high taxation has drawn criticism from governmental and corporate figures.

Read on: In Google's world