It is “very important not to politicize antitrust enforcement,” Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s competition watchdog commissioner, reportedly said Tuesday, likely in response to some pushback she has received for a massive fine the political union recently exacted on Google.
“I told you so! The European Union just slapped a Five Billion Dollar fine on one of our great companies, Google,” President Donald Trump tweeted July 19 following the announcement of the roughly $5 billion penalty. “They truly have taken advantage of the U.S., but not for long!”
The European Commission officially fined Google on July 18, ruling that it abused the dominance of Android, its mobile operating system. The penalty, brought down by the EU’s antitrust arm, is the largest against any individual company — the previous record was also held by Google. If Google fails to pay the fine within 90 days of the announcement, the EU’s governing body will exact an additional five percent of Google parent company Alphabet’s “daily worldwide turnover” for each day thereafter. (RELATED: The Aftermath Of The EU’s Record $5 Billion Penalty On Google, And What It Means Moving Forward)
Vestager outlined three specific allegations of illegal practices.
First, she accuses the U.S.-based corporation of forcing smartphone manufacturers to pre-install its proprietary apps — like Chrome and its primary search — if it also wants to embed the Play Store, which offers all other apps.
Second, Google allegedly pays certain phone makers to pre-install its search app and no one else’s.
Third, she said Google “prevented” manufacturers of Android-equipped mobile devices from selling phones that run on non-approved “alternative versions of the operating system.”
Google denied these charges, and that it is in general anti-competitive.
“Android has created more choice for everyone, not less,” a Google spokeswoman told The Daily Caller News Foundation at the time of the fine. “A vibrant ecosystem, rapid innovation and lower prices are classic hallmarks of robust competition.”
And Trump, who often seems vindictive, doesn’t like Europe messing with highly successful domestic companies, even if that firm is one with leaders that have supported his political opponents.
Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google parent company Alphabet (who remains on the board of directors), wore a staff badge during then-Democratic candidate for president Hillary Clinton’s election night party in 2016. He also told an audience of employees that Trump is “going to do these evil things as they’ve done in the immigration area and perhaps some others.” (RELATED: Why Is Alphabet CEO Eric Schmidt Technically Serving In The Department Of Defense?)
In this specific instance, Trump cares more about picking a fight with the European counterpart, which in his eyes started it.
“Your tax lady, she hates the U.S.,” Trump told European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who is technically Vestager’s boss, during the G7 summit in June, according to Reuters.
“I very much like the U.S.,” Vestager said during the news conference announcing the Google penalty.
She echoed that claim Tuesday, according to Bloomberg.
“The only politics here were the politics made by our founders,” Vestager said Tuesday during a different press conference. “The Google case is a case about the illegal behavior of Google in Europe.”
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