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November 3, 2015

Google hits out at EU anti-trust charges

News: Alphabet could face €6bn fine, but claims no legal basis for assessing fines.

By CBR Staff Writer

Google’s parent company Alphabet has lashed out against EU regulators’ decision to file antitrust charges against the US search giant for allegedly manipulating its search results to favour its own shopping service.

In a 130-page formal legal response submitted to the EU Commission, Alphabet claims that there is no basis for assessing fines against the company.

Google accounts for nine out of every ten searches in Europe, but has been accused of favouring its price comparison service Google Shopping over alternatives.

If the charges are proven, Alphabet could face up to €6bn in fines.

The Wall Street Journal cited the document where Google’s lawyers wrote: "The theory on which the (EU’s) preliminary conclusions rest is so ambiguous that the Commission itself concluded three times that the concern had been resolved."

The document has cited European Commissioner for Competition president Joaquín Almunia’s announcement in January 2014 that a third settlement proposal from Google was ‘capable of addressing (the EU’s) competition concerns’.

However, in September 2014 EU changed track and said that Google’s proposed settlement was not sufficient.

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The document further adds: "If the Commission decides to end the commitment process it must therefore provide reasons for the change in position."

"EU has not provided substantiated reasons as to why it found the January 2014 commitments insufficient."

The search giant also raised questions regarding EU’s legal justification for demanding Google to change its algorithms to treat comparison-shopping rivals equally in search results.

Google said that to do so, EU would need to show that its results are as essential as a public utility.

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