Technology

Call for action on Google’s impact on travel search after €2.42bn EC fine

Posted by Ian Tayloron
Call for action on Google’s impact on travel search after €2.42bn EC fine

The European Technology and Travel Services Association (ETTSA) welcomed the European Commission’s massive fine on Google and urged it to address “harm done by Google” to other sectors “notably travel search”.

ETTSA, which represents leading online travel agencies (OTAs) and global distribution systems (GDSs), hailed the EC’s decision in its antitrust case against Google Search, but insisted: “It’s imperative the Commission maintains the momentum.”

The EC imposed a €2.42 billion fine on Google after ruling the company had abused its power by promoting its own shopping comparison service at the top of Google Shopping search results.

Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said the ruling set a precedent for dealing with related complaints about the prominence Google gives to its own flight results and local business listings.

Google said it was considering an appeal.

ETTSA noted the Commission had concluded Google “abused its dominant position in each national market for general internet search . . . by promoting its own vertical service while demoting rival vertical services”.

The association said: “This behaviour has had a significant negative impact on competition and hindered start-ups in online sectors across Europe.”

ETTSA secretary-general Christoph Klenner said: “It’s imperative the Commission maintains the momentum by requiring Google to cease leveraging its dominant position in general search services beyond comparison shopping.

“Google’s conduct is significantly impacting on competition in the travel vertical at the expense of consumers and of Google’s competitors.”

Klenner said: “We will continue to work with the Commission to ensure Google ceases to abuse its dominance in the travel sector and to create a level playing field for its competitors.

“We are confident that such an outcome will contribute significantly to restoring consumer choice, competition and transparency.”

Vestager said: “What Google has done is illegal under EU anti-trust rules. It has denied other companies the chance to compete on their merit . . . and denied European consumers the benefits of competition, genuine choice and innovation.”

The Commission left it to Google to determine what changes it should make to its shopping service to ensure future compliance with EU rules.

Google said: “We respectfully disagree with the conclusions. We look forward to continuing to make our case.”

The EC has been investigating Google Shopping since 2010.

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