The European Parliament is gunning for Google. In a completely unenforceable symbolic gesture today, it voted to “unbundle search engines from commercial services” (which would, in effect mean the breakup of Google).
The so-called "Resolution on the Digital Single Market" – proposed by German MEP Andreas Schwab and his Spanish colleague Ramon Tremosa – doesn’t mention Google by name, but is clearly targeted at the search giant. It passed by 458 to 173 with 23 abstentions.
MEPs are couching the resolution in terms of promoting startup and innovation: German MEP Evelyne Gebhardt said: “European policymakers must directly support European innovation, and particularly new start-ups, in order to foster their potential.”
But trade reps aren’t buying it. The US Mission to the EU said that the efforts to tear the Chocolate factory limb from limb are politically motivated. This is something that IS hinted at in Gebhardt’s follow-up statement: “Internet search services dominate the everyday lives of Europeans. Web search results influence consumers' decisions, not only with regard to online sales of goods and services, but also in terms of social and political rights.”
Given that it has no power to do anything itself, the Parliament’s aim is to put pressure on the new Competition Commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, to take action. The Commission is investigating alleged abuses of dominance in the search sector, but previous Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia appeared keen to avoid sanctions or divestiture orders. His replacement has not yet shown her hand. ®