Vulcan Insight

Google loses appeal of EU antitrust fine

12 November 2021

Google has lost an appeal against a €2.4BN fine from the EU for giving preferential treatment to its own shopping service and demoting rivals in search results. The fine, handed down by the European Commission in 2017 has been upheld after a lengthy appeal.

European Commissioner Margrethe Vestager sanctioned the internet search engine in 2017 for favouring its own price-comparison shopping service, giving it an unfair advantage over smaller European rivals. This fine was the first of a trio of fines that has seen Google rack up a total of €8.25BN in EU antitrust penalties in the last decade.

The Luxembourg based General Court “largely dismisses Google’s action against the decision of the Commission finding that Google abused its dominant position by favouring its own comparison shopping service over competing comparison shopping services,” the Court said. Google can appeal the decision to the European Union’s highest court, the European Court of Justice.

The move can be seen as a huge political win for Commissioner Vestager, a thorn in the side of the GAFAs for many years. That heing said, overall the fine won’t make big changes or mean a whole lot going forward, with the Digital Markets Act expected to rectify these practices in the future.

A spokesperson for the European Commission said via email, “Today’s judgment delivers the clear message that Google’s conduct was unlawful and it provides the necessary legal clarity for the market.”

The spokesperson added: “The Commission will continue to use all tools at its disposal to address the role of big digital platforms on which businesses and users depend.”