Will the Google fine trigger a trade war?

The European Commission has hit Google with a record fine of 2.42 billion euros for giving its own shopping service an illegal advantage against others through its search dominance. The EU is defending its identity and the rights of consumers with this decision, commentators write enthusiastically. Others, however, are not at all pleased with this harsh approach vis-à-vis the US company.

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La Vanguardia (ES) /

Brussels attempting moral rearmament

In addition to ensuring free competition the EU is also flexing its muscles, La Vanguardia believes:

“ The EU's fine is a declaration of intention that coincides with a moment of 'moral rearmament' as well as the desire to revive the European project after the Brexit shock and in a hostile context personified by presidents Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump. … This is the type of confrontation Trump specialises in, and we'll see now whether he's willing to contribute to a deal - Google is well able to cope with this fine - or chooses instead to whip up more anger with anti-European statements and economic reprisals.”

De Volkskrant (NL) /

Trump could feel provoked

The mega fine for Google comes at a precarious time and could fuel the trade conflict with the US, De Volkskrant fears:

“The tensions between the major trade blocs are growing, free trade is under pressure and economic nationalism is on the rise. … Even if these billions in fines against Google don't limit free trade but are aimed at combating unfair competition it is highly likely that Trump will interpret the measure as a plot against America. He owes his presidency to the fact that he was able to convince many voters that the world's greatest economic power is also the greatest victim of dishonest economic practices.”

Il Sole 24 Ore (IT) /

This is not about anti-Americanism

Il Sole 24 Ore, on the other hand, doesn't believe this is about the EU trying to compete with the US:

“More convincing is the theory that the activism of the European authorities against the platforms Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon and Microsoft is the consequence of a confrontation between the public sector mentality and digital structures. Europe's very identity is at stake on the subjects of privacy rights, the welfare state and thus fiscal justice and antitrust law. Competition, in particular, is a fundamental feature of the European construct, analogue to free movement. This principle collides with the structure of platforms which, if successful, tend to become monopolies. … Therefore the five giants of the web are not being called to account by the EU because they are American, but because they are digital.”

Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

EU protects its citizens

Now the EU can prove it's on the consumers' side, the Tages-Anzeiger writes in delight:

“It's this EU that French President Emmanuel Macron is talking about when he speaks of a Europe that protects. Through the example of the proceedings against Google the EU can show that it offers added value. Google is always the sinister monster that exerts its influence over all areas of life. Perhaps we'll soon be driving Google cars, looking at the world through Google glasses or adjusting the heating at home while we're out and about using Google products. If that's the way we're heading it's good that someone like Margrethe Vestager reminds us that Google's dominant market position also entails responsibilities.”