The case is a test for Commission competition chief Margrethe Vestager’s approach to reining in big tech
The case is a test for Commission competition chief Margrethe Vestager’s approach to reining in big tech.by majority, with the presiding judge holding the casting vote. Whatever the outcome, the parties can still appeal the judgment with the higher European Court of Justice. The Commission is terrified that the case is requalified as such a"duty to supply" case, as Google is arguing should happen Overall, Google's lawyers struggled to convince the court that the way it cultivated its shopping service was to the benefit of consumers and that the updates of its algorithms were primarily aimed at offering them more relevant results. An intervention from European consumer organization BEUC on the side of the Commission did not help to maintain that claim. "Google’s conduct places rivals out of the sight of consumers under the pretext of making things better for consumers when in reality it is done for Google’s own benefit," BEUC's lawyer Alessandra Fratini said. But that does not necessarily mean Google infringed EU competition law. One of the crucial legal questions is whether the company had a duty to provide its rivals access to its results pages. As EU law stands, that is only possible under very strict conditions, which are widely considered not to apply in this case. The Commission is terrified that the case is requalified as such a"duty to supply" case, as Google is arguing should happen. It had its most difficult moment on Thursday when judge Stéphane Gervasoni, the lead judge on the panel, suggested that the court could update the legal standard for the digital age. Google's lawyers emphasised the Commission's failure to establish a causal link between its alleged anti-competitive behavior and the loss of traffic suffered by its rivals The Commission's lawyer refused to engage in the brainstorming with Gervasoni — any sign of following the reasoning that this is a duty to supply case could endanger its decision. But it was difficult to deny this case was about shopping comparison services wanting to be featured on Google's first results page. There are other points on which the California-based company could prevail. In its final pleadings, Google's lawyers emphasised the Commission's failure to establish a causal link between its alleged anti-competitive behavior and the loss of traffic suffered by its rivals, referring to a Google comparison of countries where the search giant did or did not apply its controversial" Panda " algorithm. "Because traffic of [rivals] developed similarly, with or without the abuse, the abuse cannot have been the cause of the traffic decreases the [Commission's] decision described," Google lawyer Thomas Graf argued. Related stories on these topics: Read more: POLITICO
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