Eight months after Google was sentenced to a spectacular € 2.4 billion fine, 19 competitors in the Net Price Comparison Service jointly signed a letter to the European Commission. They demand the rejection of the proposed solution and put in place by the American firm.
Last June, the lengthy procedure conducted by the European Commission led to a clear verdict: Google was found guilty of abusing a dominant position in the price comparison market in search results and was consequently record fine in the amount of 2.4 billion euros. Despite his appeal, the giant had to promptly submit solutions to remedy the situation. Thus, in September, the undisputed champion of search introduced an auction system and began to operate its home comparison service, Google Shopping, independently. The idea behind it? Put the Google Shopping and its competitors on an equal footing by simply assigning the best locations to the highest bidder. Except that, as 19 companies, including the French comparator Twenga, point out, in a letter recently sent to the European Commissioner in charge of competition, Margrethe Vestager, the approach does not rehabilitate the competition. Indeed, Google Shopping can virtually outbid unlimitedly, since the money goes anyway to his parent company. And according to the observations of the 19 plaintiffs, the giant would not hesitate to dismiss his rivals by driving up prices. It's simple: to believe the letter, "the harm to competition, consumers and innovation [reproché à Google] continued unabated." That's why the stakeholders urge the Commission to "reject the cure proposed by Google "and to require from him" a remedy that conforms to the principles of equal treatment "put forward in the decision of last June. The various companies say they are ready to assist in deconstructing the solutions suggested by Google and are convinced that "[leur] respective expertise could be essential to evaluate whether a remedy effectively puts an end to the abuse of Google's dominant position." Remember that the giant could be punished in addition to 5% of its global daily turnover if he failed to meet the demands of the Commission. On the side of Brussels, this letter did not fail to draw attention. The letter would indeed raise "several elements that the Commission already observes in the context of the ongoing evaluation of Google's measurements". With regard to Mountain View, it is – officially – misunderstanding. "As requested, the price comparison services have the same chances as Google Shopping to display an advertisement for a merchant on the search results," said a spokesman. The new mechanism would thus be in line with the requirements formulated last June.