Google should lose its court fight to topple a €2.4 billion EU fine for unfairly favouring its own shopping services, an adviser to the EU’s top court said.
Google “was leveraging its dominant position on the market for general search services to favour its own comparison shopping service by favoring the display of its results”, Juliane Kokott, an advocate general at the EU’s court of justice, said in a non-binding opinion on Thursday.
She suggested EU judges dismiss Google’s appeal of an earlier court ruling finding the same violations. The EU’s top court often follows such advice in its final rulings, which typically come several months afterwards.
EU competition regulators slapped Google with the fine in 2017 — a record at the time — for violating antitrust rules by favouring its own shopping service over those of its rivals. The tech firm was forced to change the way it displays shopping search results that might help rivals grab some of the valuable ad space on search pages. The fine formed part of a trio of EU decisions that led to €8.3-billion in total fines, including for abuses of its dominance on its mobile operating system and its display advertising operations.
The commission has since started a new probe into Google’s suspected stranglehold over digital advertising, sending it antitrust charges last year that threatened a breakup of parts of its lucrative business. Google has since warned it won’t accept the mandatory divestment of part of its services deemed vital by Margrethe Vestager, the bloc’s antitrust chief.