Break Google up. That’s the thrust of a “non-binding” resolution the European Parliament is expected to adopt at some point in the near future, according to a report on Friday from Reuters.
The recommendation is likely to be to separate Google’s search engine from the rest of the business. Needless to say, if this were to come to pass it would be hugely damaging for Google. Reuters saw a draft of the resolution and reported the following Friday:
The motion seen by Reuters “calls on the Commission to consider proposals with the aim of unbundling search engines from other commercial services as one potential long-term solution” to leveling the competitive playing field.
Many people in the US scoffed and scratched their heads when they read this last week. While the European Parliament can’t order the break up of Google, and so the resolution would be symbolic, the move represents an escalation of anti-Google sentiment and rhetoric. It also puts real, additional pressure on the European Commission (EC), which is at the center of the antitrust dispute.
The EC does have sweeping authority to deal with antitrust violations in Europe, including fines and “structural remedies.” For the past two years the Commission has been trying to reach a voluntary settlement with Google — unsuccessfully. We’ve written about these many attempts multiple times.
Former EC chief Joaquín Almunia left office on November 1 without a settlement, though several times in the past he thought he had one that would work for all parties. Persistent opposition by a variety of coordinated interest groups and companies including Microsoft, Yelp, TripAdvisor and others managed to thwart the various settlement proposals through lobbying and very vocal opposition.
Using a variety of studies and surveys, they criticized the succession of settlement proposals as ineffectual.
Now it falls to Margrethe Vestager, a former Danish …read more