EU imposes record fine on Google

The EU Commission has announced a record fine for Google: the technology company must pay 4.3 billion euros for abuse of its dominant market position. Commentators are glad to see EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager protecting consumer interests and predict that the EU will soon take other tech giants to task.

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Politiken (DK) /

The European Dane

Politiken is delighted that Margrethe Vestager has pushed through the record fine against Google:

“For the global tech giant Vestager is not a Dane but a European. If companies are being forced to respect her it is not because she can be very harsh when necessary. And it is not because she is so good at her job as EU competition commissioner. It is for two reasons: she is backed by a united Europe - the EU. And she doesn't hold back when it comes to holding the world's biggest companies to account: whether it's for tax avoidance, distorting competition or building up monopolies. There could be no better proof that the EU can protect consumers. ... And we're entitled to be a little proud that she comes from Denmark.”

Público (PT) /

Brussels not finished yet

The battle against the digital giants will perhaps be the biggest legacy of the Juncker Commission, Público stresses:

“The antitrust fine against Google may be the biggest yet - but Brussels is far from finished: the Commission will now take Facebook to task for violation of privacy, several platforms are under investigation for spreading hate speeches, Amazon is facing a trial for abuse of its dominant market position and another trial on the same charges is already pending against Google. In addition all these companies are under investigation for suspected tax avoidance. These are the first steps of a new EU in which it is becoming increasingly clear that access to the EU market will only be granted to those companies that adhere to the labour, social and tax regulations.”

De Morgen (BE) /

Record fine is not a law of nature

Philosopher of economics Rogier De Langhe asks in De Morgen what type of knee-jerk reaction is behind the EU's fine:

“Europe sees the virtual world as a market like any other, and stresses that its character is fundamentally shaped by companies. Google sees the smartphone business system as its virtual territory for which the state must enact new rules. ... Does Europe want to protect its consumers, or is it sacrificing them to maintain its power over our increasingly digitised society? ... It's not always clear who has violated, overstepped, or changed the rules. Evolution or revolution? Are Internet platforms new players that must comply with the current rules, or will digitisation itself bring about a change in the rules?”

Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

In the interest of consumers

With its fine against Google the EU Commission has done consumers a big favour, the Tages-Anzeiger writes approvingly:

“In the simplistic world-view of the US president, the Google fine must seem like a preventive counterstrike on the part of the Europeans. That said, it is primarily US companies like Microsoft and Oracle that got the proceedings going in the first place. With her record fine against Google, Margrethe Vestager has done a service not only to consumers, but also to manufacturers of Smartphones and developers of new applications around the world. If Google is forced to rethink its adhesion contracts for the use of the Android system this could work in consumers' favour by stimulating competition.”

El Mundo (ES) /

EU restoring citizens' trust

The fine not only strengthens competition but is also a trust-building measure for the EU, El Mundo comments delightedly:

“The fact that the European Commission has imposed the highest fine in its history on Google - 4.3 billion euros for violating the anti-monopoly law - is good news for the free market and consumer rights. ... The EU is not experiencing its best moment right now. But this decision will help to bolster the citizens' confidence in the protection against the interests of excessively powerful companies guaranteed by EU institutions.”

Die Presse (AT) /

Innovation, not fines in the billions

The fine against Google won't help break the company's market dominance, Die Presse is convinced:

“Google's practices may have 'cemented' its number one position, as EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager says. However the real reason for the dominance of the company from Palo Alto is another: Google simply offers its customers extremely good products. ... So the dominance of Google, Amazon and Facebook can't be broken by measures pushed through by competition watchdogs. Only better or more innovative companies can do that. And even if it seems almost inconceivable, the dominance of these tech giants is not carved in stone.”

Lidové noviny (CZ) /

Google needs to eat humble pie now

If Google isn't careful it will lose its users' favour, warns Lidové noviny:

“The global number one on the Internet should admit its mistakes and face the allegations of abuse of power to the detriment of its competitors. Microsoft ended up in a similar position some time ago. The company incurred the general public's displeasure because of its arrogance and unwillingness to admit mistakes. Google must realise that this could end the same way unless it returns to its technological roots and listens to its marketing people and lawyers. That would ultimately be more painful than any fine.”