Google will have to pay a fine of 4.1 billion euros to European justice for non-compliance with competition

The multinational Google failed, Wednesday, September 14, to have a record fine of 4.3 billion euros imposed in 2018 by the European Union (EU) canceled for having abused the dominant position of its Android operating system, according to a judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union.

“The action brought by Google is essentially dismissed”, writes the court. However, she judges ” appropriate “ to reduce the amount of the penalty to 4.1 billion euros, in order to take better account of the seriousness and duration of the infringement. This is a judgment rendered at first instance and subject to appeal within two months. In a statement, Google said ” disappointed “ by this decision, adding that“Android has created more choices for everyone (…) and supports thousands of businesses in Europe and around the world ».

Brussels notably accuses Google of having forced manufacturers of telephones and tablets using its operating system to pre-install its search engine and its browser (Chrome) to eliminate competitors. The Android system is used on approximately 80% of mobile devices worldwide.

“The court largely confirms the Commission’s decision that Google imposed unlawful restrictions on mobile device manufacturers and mobile network operators, in order to consolidate the dominant position of its search engine”details the court in a press release.

The Californian group considers the accusation unfounded. He had seized European justice to claim the cancellation of the fine, the highest ever decided by the competition authority in Brussels (even after the reduction proposed by the court).

Google believes that the EU has wrongly ignored competitor Apple, which favors its own services, such as the Safari browser, on its iPhones. “The commission has turned a blind eye to the real competitive dynamics of this sector, the one between Apple and Android”, explained the group’s lawyer, during a hearing last year. Google stressed that downloading competing apps was a click away and that customers were under no obligation to use its products on Android.

Three lawsuits against Google

However, Wednesday’s decision should not close this dispute, which began in 2015 with the opening of a procedure by the European Commission, after several complaints from competitors. Google does indeed have the option of filing an appeal.

The case is one of three major disputes opened by Brussels against Google, whose practices are also disputed in the United States and Asia.

  • In 2017, the Commission imposed a fine of 2.4 billion euros on Google for anticompetitive practices in the price comparison market. This fine was confirmed in November 2021. Google then announced that it was appealing.
  • In 2019, the European executive had still claimed 1.5 billion euros from Google for infringements of competition attributed to its advertising management, AdSense.
  • On the other hand, European justice had canceled in June a fine of nearly 1 billion euros against the mobile telephony equipment manufacturer Qualcomm, after having already canceled in January a sanction of 1.06 billion euros against the chipmaker Intel electronics.
Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers Under pressure from regulators, Google, Amazon or Facebook offer concessions

Frustrated by the endless lawsuits against the digital giants, the EU has designed new legislation to curb abuses of dominant position by the Silicon Valley giants. The Digital Markets Act (DMA), which is due to come into force next year, will impose a series of upstream obligations and prohibitions on groups such as Google, Apple, Meta (Facebook) and Amazon. It aims to act before abusive behavior has destroyed competition.

Also read the editorial: With the Digital Markets Act, a serious rein in of the Internet giants in Europe

The World with AFP

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