Google’s $2.7 billion EU antitrust fine should be upheld, court adviser says

By Foo Yun Chee and Benoit Van Overstraeten

BRUSSELS (Reuters) -Alphabet unit Google’s 2.42-billion-euro ($2.7 billion) EU antitrust fine should be upheld by Europe’s top court, an adviser to the court said on Thursday, dealing a potential blow to the world’s most popular internet search engine.

The European Commission handed down the fine to the company in 2017 for using its own price comparison shopping service to gain an unfair advantage over smaller European rivals.

The shopping case was the first of three EU decisions that resulted in a total of 8.25 billion euros in fines for Google last decade.

Advocate General at the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) Juliane Kokott said judges should confirm the fine.

“Google, as found by the Commission and confirmed by the General Court, was leveraging its dominant position on the market for general search services to favour its own comparison shopping service by favouring the display of its results,” she said.

Judges, who follow the majority of such non-binding recommendations, will rule in the coming months. A lower tribunal sided with the EU competition enforcer in 2021.

Google said it would review the opinion and wait for the court ruling.

“Irrespective of the appeal, we continue to invest in our remedy, which has been working successfully for several years, and will continue to work constructively with the European Commission,” a spokesperson said.

EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager is scheduled to meet Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai and other Big Tech leaders in the United States later on Thursday to discuss competition and digital issues.

Google has also challenged the other two rulings regarding its Android mobile operating system and AdSense advertising service.

The case is C-48/22 P Google and Alphabet v Commission (Google Shopping).

($1 = 0.9115 euros)

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee and Benoit Van OverstraetenEditing by Mark Potter)