EU antitrust regulators hit Google with a record 4.34 billion euro ($5 billion) fine yesterday for using its Android mobile operating system to squeeze out rivals.
The penalty is nearly double the previous record of 2.4 billion euros which the U.S. tech company was ordered to pay last year over its online shopping search service.
It represents just over two weeks of revenue for Google parent Alphabet Inc. and would scarcely dent its cash reserves of $102.9 billion. But it could add to a brewing trade war between Brussels and Washington.
EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager said she very much liked the United States, countering a reported remark by President Donald Trump that she “hated” the country.
“But the fact is that this has nothing to do with how I feel. Nothing whatsoever. Just as enforcing competition law, we do it in the world, but we do not do it in political context,” she said.
Vestager’s boss, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, is due to meet President Trump at the White House next Wednesday in an effort to avert threatened new tariffs on EU cars amid Trump’s complaints over the U.S. trade deficit.
Vestager also ordered Google to halt anti-competitive practices in contractual deals with smartphone makers and telecoms providers within 90 days or face additional penalties of up to 5 percent of parent Alphabet’s average daily worldwide turnover.
“Google has used Android as a vehicle to cement the dominance of its search engine. These practices have denied rivals the chance to innovate and compete on the merits. They have denied European consumers the benefits of effective competition in the important mobile sphere,” Vestager said.
Asked on whether breaking up Google would solve the issue, a call made by a number of Google foes, she said she was not sure if that was the solution.