EU: Germany calls for Google breakup show limits of competition law

European Commissioner Joaquin Almunia responded to remarks made only days ago by Germany Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who argued that a forced breakup of Google should be “seriously considered” due to its overwhelming market power.

Such a breakup could not be imposed upon the company because competition law is not powerful enough, Almunia said, noting that the legislation would need a complete overhaul to impose such action of the search giant.

Germany’s competition authority released a statement Wednesday in support of Gabriel’s remarks, arguing he “captured exactly” what competition head Andreas Mundt believes regarding the market power of Google.

”We have nothing against a company using it strength in search to expand into other business areas,” he said. “But if there is an undue concentration of market share of an abuse of market dominance, the new rules for agencies like outs are called for if we are to do anything about it.”

Almunia’s comments in response to Gabriel were made earlier this week when he also discussed a recent complaint filed with the Commission by the Open Internet Project, which represents hundreds of European companies, against Google.

Deutsche Telekom has also sent a letter to the Commission criticizing Almunia’s settlement with Google. The Commissioner noted that the authority is now examining whether the letter should be considered a formal complaint and, if so, whether to open a formal investigation into the matter.

Almunia has held strong to the settlement agreement reached with Google after years of investigating claims of Google’s abuse of dominance in the online search market. While he said earlier this week that he would closely examine these criticisms and has not ruled out another look at the settlement, reports say regulators are set on closing the matter by the end of the summer.

Full content: Eurasia Review and Wall Street Journal

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