• Home
  • GAFAM
  • The arm wrestling match between Google and Brussels: €4.3 billion at stake

The arm wrestling match between Google and Brussels: €4.3 billion at stake

Partager sur facebook
Partager sur twitter
Partager sur linkedin
Partager sur email

While the European Commission condemned Google in 2018, accusing the Mountain View company of using Android to consolidate the dominance of its other services, Google is contesting its €4.34 billion fine on the grounds that the European Commission failed to include Apple in its reasoning by “defining markets too narrowly”. It is therefore a crucial legal battle that began on Monday in Luxembourg before the European Union’s General Court. During the week-long battle, Google will try to make Brussels bend.

What Google was charged with ?

The Commission found that Mountain View was violating EU competition law by imposing illegal restrictions on Android device manufacturers and mobile network operators since 2011 in order to consolidate its dominant position in the internet search market.

Firstly, Google would have paid smartphone manufacturers & operators so that they would not pre-install other search applications. Secondly, the US giant allegedly forced them to pre-install several of its applications, including the Chrome browser and the search bar, under the threat of not having access to the Play Store. Google also reportedly forbade them to sell other devices running on alternative versions of Android[1].

Apple : the true culprit ?

The search engine is challenging Brussels’ interpretation. It believes that these contractual clauses were justified in that they allow it to make a profit on its investment in the Android system, which it provides free of charge to manufacturers.

But Google’s main line of defense is its competition with Apple. Indeed, according to Meredith Pickford, Google’s lawyer quoted by Reuters, “the Commission ignored the real competitive dynamic in this sector, that between Apple and Android”. “By defining the markets too narrowly and downplaying the strong constraint imposed by the very powerful Apple, the Commission wrongly assumed that Google was dominant in mobile operating systems and app shops, when in fact it was a major market disruptor” he added[2].

What is at stake ?

The stakes in this dispute are not negligible. Indeed, the verdict will influence the next confrontations between Europe and Google, but also with other American digital giants. This case is therefore a crucial test for EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who already suffered a resounding defeat in the European courts last year against Apple over its tax privileges in Ireland[3].

A new failure in this case would further call into question Brussels’ strategy against the domination of the American giants. A strategy already judged ineffective last year by the European Court of Auditors, with Google still capturing 97% of the market in Europe[4].

 

[1] Marin, Jérôme. “La Justice Européenne Se Penche Sur L’amende Record Infligée à Google.” Cafétech, 27 Sept. 2021, https://cafetech.fr/2021/09/27/la-justice-europeenne-se-penche-sur-lamende-record-infligee-a-google/.

[2] Vitard, Alice. “Google Conteste L’amende De 4,34 Milliards D’euros Infligée PAR BRUXELLES.” Usine, Alice Vitard |, 28 Sept. 2021, https://www.usine-digitale.fr/article/google-conteste-l-amende-de-4-34-milliards-d-euros-infligee-par-bruxelles.N1144387.

[3] Vitard, Alice. “Google Conteste L’amende De 4,34 Milliards D’euros Infligée PAR BRUXELLES.” Usine, Alice Vitard |, 28 Sept. 2021, https://www.usine-digitale.fr/article/google-conteste-l-amende-de-4-34-milliards-d-euros-infligee-par-bruxelles.N1144387.

[4] Marin, Jérôme. “La Justice Européenne Se Penche Sur L’amende Record Infligée à Google.” Cafétech, 27 Sept. 2021, https://cafetech.fr/2021/09/27/la-justice-europeenne-se-penche-sur-lamende-record-infligee-a-google/.

 

Sources :

Évaluez votre niveau
de conformité

En quelques clics,
lancez sans engagement
et en toute conformité un
audit flash !

Pour recevoir votre audit flash gratuit et sans engagement, merci de bien vouloir remplir ce formulaire :