Over concern’s that a lack of competitiveness might be impeding growth in Europe’s own tech market, the European Parliament voted 384 to 174 towards a call for member states to “break down barriers to the growth of the EU’s digital single market”.
Google is not mentioned by name anywhere in the press release, but considering the ongoing antitrust investigation engaged by the European parliament against the internet giant, it seems clear to infer that Google will be at the center of this stage. Today’s vote does not have any power against any company specifically, put instead “welcomes the Commission’s pledges to investigate further the search engines’ practices.”
The crux of the matter revolves around whether ‘the search engines’ practices’ include coupling searches with other services and thus creating circumstances where other businesses, particularly smaller business, may not be getting equal exposure. Certain figures in the European Parliament have directly nominated Google as the worst offender in such cases. Notably, Belgium MEP (Member European Parliament ) Marc Tarabella has been quoted:
Search engines today are not just search engines and Google is a clear example of this. It’s a search engine that also joins forces with the businesses referenced at the top of the first search page. This is harmful to small businesses, which want to get their names out there. They are disadvantaged and this in turn is harmful to European consumers, who don’t have access to the services offered by successful businesses.
But such accusations do not stem from the European Union alone. In 2010, competitors to Google filled a complaint with the European Commission, which in turn sparked the initial antitrust scrutiny.
Today’s vote as well tackled provision attempting to ensure privacy, reliability and accessibility in cloud computing, as well as well as a stress on the importance of net neutrality. These issues were set into motion in attempts to create a single digital market in Europe; that is, to create in Europe a set of circumstances where digital technologies would not be confined nationalistically. It is expected that doing so would create €250 billion in growth, as well as creating numerous new jobs for European youth.