The EU’s General Court concluded on Wednesday that the European Commission was correct in fining Google for antitrust violations, marking a watershed moment for EU policy that may affect big internet companies’ business models.
The decision comes after the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, found that Google preferred its comparison shopping services and fined it 2.42 billion euros ($2.8 billion) for breaking antitrust laws in 2017. Google, an Alphabet subsidiary, challenged the charges in the EU’s second-highest court.
“The General Court finds that Google departed from competition on the merits by favoring its comparison shopping service on its general results pages through more favorable display and positioning while relegating the results from competing comparison services in those pages via ranking algorithms,” the court said in a press release Wednesday.
In addition, the fine of 2.42 billion euros was affirmed by the court. The court noted, “The General Court finishes its consideration by concluding that the amount of the pecuniary penalty imposed on Google must be confirmed.”
The ruling from Wednesday can be appealed to the EU’s top court.
According to an email statement by a spokesperson for the European Commission: “Today’s judgment delivers the clear message that Google’s conduct was unlawful and it provides the necessary legal clarity for the market.”
“The Commission will continue to use all tools at its disposal to address the role of big digital platforms on which businesses and users depend to, respectively, access end-users and access digital services”, the spokesperson added further.
This isn’t the first time the General Court of the European Union has decided on an antitrust complaint brought by the European Commission against a digital behemoth.
After the Brussels-based authority ordered the Republic of Ireland to reclaim 13 billion euros from Apple in 2016, the chamber determined in July 2020 that the commission had failed to show that the Irish government had provided the iPhone company a tax benefit.