The Google antitrust investigation and the case for internet platform regulation in Europe
Growth & Innovation
The alleged abuse of dominance by Google is one of the European Commission’s highest profile ongoing antitrust cases. The investigation started in 2010. Concerns have been raised that Google manipulates its search algorithm to suppress the results of its competitors, while unfairly promoting its own services – a practice known as “search bias.” Google and the European Commission are currently working on a settlement entailing remedies that could address the Commission’s concerns.
Ms Vestager, the new EU Competition Commissioner is expected to take a decision soon. In parallel, a general discussion around the need to regulate internet platforms such as Google, Ebay, Facebook, Apple, Linkdln, Amazon, Uber, Airbnb etc. developed in Europe. In November 2014, the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling the Commission to closely monitor the competitive conditions of online search market and to consider proposals “aimed at unbundling search engines from other commercial services”. Calls for action at EU level to ensure ‘platform neutrality’ is also coming from a number of concerned Member States and European companies.
The aim of this lunch talk was a thorough discussion of the substance of the potential problems and to suggest ways to address them, both in the specific case of Google alleged antitrust abuse and in the general case of internet platforms. Questions such as these were addressed:
- Is Google infringing EU antitrust laws?
- If yes, what remedies can be envisaged to address those antitrust concerns?
- More generally, is there a need for regulating internet platforms in Europe?
- If yes, how can regulation guarantee higher user protection while maintaining incentives to innovate?
Speakers from the European Parliament, academia and business will bring their different perspectives to the table. A substantial part of the debate will be dedicated to Q&A with the floor.
Please note that this event was held under the Chatham House Rule: guests can share information and ideas which they heard at the event, but not reveal the identity or affiliation of the speaker.
- Adam Cohen, Google
- Paul Seabright, Toulouse University
- Chris Sherwood, Allegro Group
- Ramon Tremosa, European Parliament
- Chair: Mario Mariniello, Bruegel
- The European Commission’s Google antitrust file 39740 portal
- The two main organizations representing the interests of complainants in the Google case: Fairsearch and ICOMP; Yelp’s “focus on the user” web tool
- Google’s chairman Eric Schmidt speech on innovation and competition
- Users could be losers in ‘EU vs Google’, op-ed by Mario Mariniello on 17th October 2013
- The pros and cons of the EU vs Google settlement, blog by Mario Mariniello on 17th February 2014
- Unbundling Google users from Europe, blog by Mario Mariniello on 27th November 2014
- Venue: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels
- Time: Wednesday 15 April 2015, 12:00-14:00
- Contact: Matilda Sevón, Events Manager – firstname.lastname@example.org