The European Commission sent two statements of objections to Google, as EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager declared competition must be protected at all costs, whatever the past achievements of the company accused of wrongdoing.
“Anyone who remembers trying to search the internet before Google knows how much that company has done to make the internet more accessible. But that doesn’t give it the right to stop others from competing,” she said in a speech this morning to the European Economic and Social Committee.
The Commission reinforced a supplement to an existing objection that Google has abused its dominant position by systematically favouring its comparison shopping service in its search result pages.
“Consumers need competition, so they can choose the product that’s best for them. And the economy needs competition, to drive companies to invest,” said Vestager.
“That’s why we are concerned that Google seems to have favoured its own comparison shopping service in its search results. Because it means consumers see the results that Google wants them to see, which might not be the most relevant ones for them,” she said.
“And if Google’s rivals believe that their services will never be as visible as Google’s, no matter how good they are, that could discourage them from investing in better services,” she added.
Separately, the Commission informed Google in a new statement of objections of its preliminary view that the company has abused its dominant position by restricting the ability of third party websites to display search advertisements from Google’s competitors.
The widening of the investigation was reported last month, so does not come as a surprise. It follows the commission’s extension earlier this week of a deadline for Google to respond to charges relating to Android.