15th April 2016

Google to face another antitrust charge amid TTIP critical push

Non-public proceedings between the EC and Google indicate, according to antitrust experts, that yet another EC antitrust case against Google may be coming to its final stage (officially known as statement of objections). The EC´s antitrust department charged Google with abusing its dominant position last year – that case involved Google Shopping results in Google Search coming higher than other price comparison sites. Now, the EC is investigating Google´s Android business. Some of Google´s competitors point out that Google abuses its dominant position on the smartphone operating systems market and bundles some of its services. If found guilty of uncompetitive behavior, Google´s parent company (Alphabet) may be fined with a sanction of up to 10% of its annual revenues – or €66.6 billion.

The case will be closely watched on the other side of the Atlantic. The EC´s antitrust department faces allegations of anti-US bias – Google, Apple and McDonald´s are only some of the investigated companies. This comes at a time crucial for TTIP negotiations as the last-minute push for TTIP conclusion in 2016 is about to take place. If negotiators do not seal the deal by the end of 2016, the new US presidency in 2017, followed by French and German elections on the EU side of the Atlantic, could derail it for years, possibly forever. Talks of a TTIP-lite have again emerged, not least because of some revealed regulatory cooperation issues – in some industries, the US do not possess US-wide technical standards, so mutual recognition of standards may not be possible.

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Members of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Czech Republic