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EU: Google ramps up lobbying as antitrust charges proceed

 |  December 17, 2015

Google is ramping up its lobbying in Brussels as a European Union antitrust investigation advances, The Guardian reports today.

The company’s spending on European lobbying has increased from just €600,000 in 2011 to nearly €4 million ($4.3 million) last year. That’s more than Apple, Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter and Uber combined, but less than the search giant’s arch-rival, Microsoft.

The lengthy report also details how Google has arranged 29 meetings with EU officials, more than any other private company. Google cofounder and CEO Larry Page met the then European Commission chief in California in spring 2014, bringing up the antitrust case even though EU officials warned him not to.

In April, Google was formally charged with taking advantage of its dominant position in the EU market by favoring its own shopping search services. The company could be fined more than €6 billion ($6.48 billion) if the accusations are found to have merit. Google has called the charges “wrong as a matter of fact, law, and economics.”

In some European countries, Google controls 90 percent of the search market. That’s a significantly higher share than the US market, where Google is also dominant, with roughly two-thirds of the market.

In late 2014, several members of European Parliament received letters from US members of Congress expressing “concern” that the MEPs were considering a resolution that would, among other things, suggest breaking up the search company. That resolution passed in November 2014.

Google declined to comment for the Guardian story about its lobbying. “European politicians have many questions for Google and about the Internet,” the company said in an e-mailed statement to Ars. “We’re working hard to answer those questions, helping policymakers understand our business and the opportunity for European businesses to grow online.”

Full content: The Guardian

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