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17 February 2022

European Publishers File Antitrust Complaint Against Google

Last week the European Publishers Council filed a complaint against Google over its digital advertising business to the European Commission, in a bid to break Google’s dominant position in the ad tech ecosystem over press publishers and other businesses.

The Council calls on the European Commission to hold Google accountable for its anticompetitive conduct and enforce remedies to re-establish effective competition in the ad tech market.

Christian Van Thillo, chair of the EPC, said: “It is high time for the European Commission to impose measures on Google that actually change, not just challenge, its behaviour – behaviour that has caused and continues to cause considerable harm, not just to Europe’s press publishers, but to all advertisers and eventually consumers in the form of higher prices (including ad tech fees), less choice, less transparency and less innovation.

“Competition authorities across the world have found that Google has restricted competition in ad tech, yet Google has been able to get away with minor commitments which do nothing to bring about any meaningful changes to its conduct.

“This cannot go on. The stakes are too high, particularly for the future viability of funding a free and pluralistic press. We call on the Commission to take concrete steps right now that will actually break the stranglehold that Google has over us all.”

The European Commission opened an investigation in June last year into whether Google favours its own online display advertising technology to the detriment of rivals, advertisers and online publishers.­­­

The Council have also called on the European Commission to draw on the findings of the UK Competition and Markets Authority, the French competition authority, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission as well as the findings in the US States lawsuit.

De Thillo said: “This complaint presents a unique opportunity for the European Commission to rectify the problems that have arisen as a direct result of its 2008 clearance of the Google/DoubleClick merger, by imposing effective remedies that will restore competition in ad tech, for the benefit of European press publishers, marketers, and consumers.”