MEPs back report urging break-up of Google services

The European Parliament adopted a report Thursday which calls for breaking up Googles search engine business from its other commercial activities, a sign of growing wariness of Big Tech in the EU.

MEPs voted to adopt the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs annual report on competition policy, which calls for unbundling Googles services. The report was adopted with 445 votes in favor versus 104 against.

The report is nonbinding, but does underscore political interest in Googles competition cases.

In 2016, the Commission sanctioned the search giant for placing Google Shopping in a box at the top of the search page while demoting rival comparison sites. Google said it would allow rival websites to bid to place ads in the box.

However, MEPs warned in the report that Googles auction-based approach might not be effective unless the search giant was broken up — and urged the Commission to carry out an in-depth analysis on whether Googles solution would level the playing field.

“In this report, MEPs have made it clear they believe that without a full-blown structural separation between the companies general and specialized search services, the auction-based approach now proposed might not deliver equal treatment,” Ramon Tremosa, the MEP rapporteur, said yesterday ahead of the vote.

The Commission currently has two open cases against Google concerning its Android mobile operating system and Adsense for Search. Speaking last night to the plenary, Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said that those cases were “advancing,” while Tremosa complained the five years of investigation so far “seems like an eternity.”

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