EU accuses Google of hurting consumers, competitors
Updated: 2015-04-16 10:36
Google's critics welcomed the decision to pursue the US giant, though many industry experts believe the action is unlikely to markedly shift existing business their way. Rather, by firing a shot across Google's bows, it may favor competitors in new areas as technology develops, a priority for the new European Commission led by Jean-Claude Juncker, which wants to foster home-grown enterprise.
Michael Weber of German online mapping service Hot-Map.com told Reuters: "After so many years with everyone thinking that we were crazy, it's good to see something happening. The sun is shining today."
Vestager's action won cross-party endorsement in the European Parliament. In a statement headlined "Even Uncle Google must play fair", German lawmaker Manfred Weber, floor leader of the largest conservative group, said: "Internet is not the Wild West - there are rules on the web that must also be respected."
French Socialists Pervenche Beres and Virginie Roziere applauded the Commission for "at long last" taking action against "the threat posed to the European economy" and renewed their call for the breakup of Google.
American domination of the Internet and other new technology sectors has prompted a mixture of admiration and anxiety in Europe.
US authorities that looked at Google's business have taken no action. Vestager said she was not concerned that difference in approach weakened her case: "It's a different market," she told Reuters. While Google has over 90 percent of the EU search market, it has only two thirds of its home market.
The Initiative for a Competitive Online Marketplace, an alliance of businesses, applauded the Commission for taking what it called "decisive action to end Google's years of abusive behavior in its long-running antitrust case".
German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel welcomed Vestager's action. Germany, backed by major companies in the EU's biggest economy, has been particularly vocal in pressing the Commission to act against Google.
Axel Springer chief Mathias Doepfner told the German media group's shareholders in Berlin on Tuesday that Vestager's predecessor Almunia's efforts to negotiate a deal with Google would have been a "shoddy compromise" and praised Vestager for being "more determined, quicker and more true to the facts".