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Google faces first EU fine for search practices – and it could top €1bn

Will the Google stand its ground against the potential fines from Brussels?

By Tom Ball

Brussels has Google in its sights as the EU looks to impose the first of a set of three antitrust decisions on the American multinational technology company.

Google is accused of abusing search market dominance in its the Google Shopping service, with the EU reportedly set to slap a huge fine on the US tech giant. It is believed by people familiar with the seven year investigation that the fine could be record breaking and is expected to surpass the €1bn fine issued to Intel in 2009.

This EU fine will further sour the relationship between the EU and the United States, recently made tenser by the exit of the U.S. from the Paris climate accord in recent weeks.

The Google fine also follows other penalties issued to US companies, with a €13 billion tax bill recenlty imposed against Apple. The iPhone maker was accused by the EU of holding a sweetheart tax deal with Irish tax authorities that the EU said amounted to illegal state aid.



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So far there has not been comment from either Google or the European Union regarding details of the major penalty. In the case of the tax bill faced by Apple, a struggle ensued as the tech company dug in to fight its corner.

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With previous history of the EU investigating and fining U.S. tech companies, the question has been raised regarding whether the companies were intentionally targeted, but Brussels has denied this. The long running case was inherited by Europe’s current competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager, from Joaquin Almunia.

The next investigation in the trio looks into whether Google banned competitors from websites that used ads and search bar. The third is focussed on the way Google limits mobile phone providers that use Android software and the play app store.

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