Regulation

EU Antitrust Chief Sees No Competition Issues With Google Shopping

Margrethe Vestager

European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said measures put in place for Google to boost competition in online shopping results appear to be working, according to a report by Reuters.

The European Commission slapped Google with a fine of 2.4 billion euros ($2.7 billion) about two years ago for promoting its own comparison shopping service over competitors. Since then, Google has offered rivals the chance to bid for space on the top of a search page, which they say gives them equal footing to compete.

Vestager said she saw no issues with how Google was handling the order, even though some other companies say it hasn’t been enough.

“Now we are in a situation where in 75 percent of queries there would be at least one rival to Google in the shopping box and 40 percent of clicks would go to a merchant hosted by one of the rivals,” Vestager said. “This means we do not have a non-compliance case but at the same time also means that we keep monitoring monthly developments.”

Kelkoo, a British online shopping outfit, said Vestager’s views didn’t match up with its own.

“Overall, there has been no meaningful change in the number of users accessing comparison services other than Google’s,” Kelkoo Chief Executive Richard Stables said.

That sentiment was echoed by the Open Internet Project, which is also a Google rival.

“By putting these Google-powered Shopping Units at the top of every relevant results page, above more relevant comparison services, Google continues to reserve the important market for comparison shopping services to itself,” it said in a statement.

Vestager has also recently shared her views on whether big tech companies like Facebook and Google should be broken up. She said that breaking them up should be a last resort, and that regulating data usage might be a better idea.

“To break up a company, to break up private property would be very far-reaching, and you would need to have a very strong case that it would produce better results for consumers in the marketplace than what you could do with more mainstream tools,” she said. “We’re dealing with private property. Businesses that are built and invested in and become successful because of their innovation.”

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