Alphabet’s Google unit filed a petition with Europe’s second High Court on Friday to reject a 2.4 billion euro ($2.6 billion) fine imposed on Google by EU antitrust authorities, saying the inflated amount had no factual or legal basis and was intended to “catch the eye”.
Google argues that the additional amount (the so-called “deterrent multiplier”) and another multiplier factor attached to the European Commission’s 2017 fines imposed to deter anti-competitive practices are excessive and unfounded.
Google’s request was made on the last day of a three-day hearing by the General Court, Europe’s second-highest court. EU antitrust authorities have already made a decision to impose three fines on Google, the first of which is being overturned. Christopher Thomas, a google lawyer, told the judge: “The 2.4 billion euro is an eye-catching figure that may attract headlines, but it is not reasonable in the actual circumstances of this case.” “
Mr Thomas said EU authorities should not have fined Google in the first place because existing case law showed that the company’s actions were not anti-competitive and its market share and the company’s alleged abuses in 13 countries did not justify the scale of the multiplier.
The European Commission used a “gravity multiplier” of 5 to 20 per cent of Google’s 2016 turnover in 13 EU countries, up from 5 per cent when Intel was penalised in 2009. Under EU law, the commission can use a multiplier of up to 30 per cent to fine companies for breaching the rules.
Mr Thomas said the European Commission should have considered that Google had made concessions in an effort to reach a settlement in the case before changing the so-called “deterrent multiplier” in 2015 and imposing penalties on Google. “At the time, Google made three real commitments in good faith to find a solution to the European Commission’s concerns and spent nearly nine months of engineering efforts to create a solution that was provisionally agreed with the European Commission, which should pay off,” he said. “
Anthony Dawes, a lawyer for the European Commission, said the commission was only calculating fines. “The European Commission has strictly adhered to the guidelines,” he said. Google’s actions constitute a recognized abuse. “
The case is expected to be decided next year, when Google can appeal to Europe’s highest court if it is unhappy with the ruling.