Google is concerned with the European Union moving forward with its antitrust investigation of the firm, and therefore, the search giant is ramping up its lobbying in Brussels, says a report from The Guardian. Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) is trying hard to defend itself against the EU’s antitrust case, and it has deployed an army of politicians and lobbyists to lobby for it.
Google lobbying budget sky-rockets
From just €600,000 in 2011, the company’s spending on European lobbying has increased to nearly €4 million ($4.3 million) last year. This is higher than the total spending by Apple, Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter and Uber, but less than arch-rival Microsoft, the report says. There are 12 U.S. Congressmen who received funding from Google for their campaigns and in return agreed to lean on members of the European parliament to vote against any antitrust efforts that would “ultimately undermine the free-market.”
Google has arranged 29 meetings with EU officials, and this is more than any other private company. In spring 2014, Google co-founder and CEO Larry Page met with the then-European Commission chief in California, and brought up the antitrust case despite warnings from the EU officials against doing so.
In late 2014, members of the U.S. Congress sent letters to several European Parliament members expressing concern about MEPs considering a resolution that would lead to breaking up of the search company among other things. In November 2014, the resolution was passed.
Google dominates European search market
In April, the Internet firm was accused of taking advantage of its dominant position in the EU search market by favoring its shopping search services. In case those accusations are found to have merit, then a fine of more than €6 billion ($6.48 billion) could be imposed on the firm. However, the company says the charges are “wrong as a matter of fact, law, and economics.”
Google controls over 90% of the search market in some European countries. This is significantly higher than the U.S. market, where the company is dominant, but with a roughly two-thirds share. There has been no comment from Google over the Guardian story about its increased European lobbying.
In an e-mail to Ars Technica, the Internet firm said, “European politicians have many questions for Google and about the Internet. We’re working hard to answer those questions, helping policymakers understand our business and the opportunity for European businesses to grow online.”