European Parliament moves to dissolve Google piling pressure on the regulator to end US search giant’s perceived monopoly
The European Parliament has undergone a vote to gauge the sentiments of its politicians regarding a prospective dissolution of Google Inc., with the results showing a crushing majority are in favour of doing just that, primarily due to the lack of competition the US search engine giant engenders within the European market.
Though not possessing entrenched, legislative powers to make Google’s disintegration compulsory, the significance of the vote is far-reaching, and represents a clear message to the European Commission to show robustness when addressing the situation.
Conducted in Strasbourg, the official seat of the European Parliament, the vote saw 384 politicians backing Google’s dissolution, with only 174 voting against and 56 choosing to abstain
Google’s rivals first voiced their grievances with the US search colossus, which holds 90% of the market share in Europe, back in 2010 and has since plagued the EU with headaches over how to level the playing field in a digital sector almost completely dominated by US firms. The chokehold Google currently possesses on the market is seen as repressing smaller European companies, and the political pressure resulting from the European Parliament’s landmark vote is being viewed as a potentially landmark step to alleviating Google’s pseudo-monopoly on Europe’s search market.
Qualms taken by rivals with the way Google handles its business include the unfair coverage Google affords to its own searches compared with competing products, the monopoly Google possesses in the selling of advertising on user’s searches and constrictions imposed on advertisers binding them to google through barring them from switching to other search engines.
The European Commission has never moved to break up a company before and the likelihood is that it will not elect do so now, given the widespread fallout such an audacious ruling would undoubtedly cause.
Already, US senators & congressmen and trade bodies have adopted a unite front, condemning the political impact of the vote on antitrust enforcement implying the two ought to be kept separate.
A somewhat foreboding letter from the senate infused with menacing undertones said: “This and similar proposals build walls rather than bridges [and] do not appear to give full consideration to the negative effect such policies may have on the broader US-EU trade relationship.”
However, European lawmakers are voicing their views with no small degree of fervour, sick of perceived marginalisation at the hands of Google, and determined to establish Europe as an emerging power in the digital world.
“Competition on the Internet is greatly skewed:” Evelyne Gebhardt, a lawmaker with the left-leaning Alliance of Socialists and Democrats primarily concerned with consumer protection, said in a parliamentary debate this past Wednesday
“Many suppliers and providers don’t really have genuine access to consumers because there is market dominance by certain search engines”
“The commission is exploring, it is exploring and exploring, but it has been exploring for years now:” she added.
Margrethe Vestager, European Comission antitrust chief, has acted with expected composure in the wake of the vote stating: “The issues at stake in our investigations have a big potential impact on many players, they are multifaceted and complex. I will therefore need some time to decide on the next steps.”
Any politically influenced decision to dissolve Google’s operations within Europe will be met with bewilderment, not only by webmasters in the US, but by many in Europe too who consider it a cheap tactic deployed by Google’s inferior rivals who lack the innovatory means to challenge the US search giant in their own right and must resort to regulatory action to effectively do so.
This is the viewpoint shared by Michal Boni, MEP, who stated: “We shouldn’t look for a scapegoat to explain our weaknesses.”