During a speech delivered at the Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po) on January 21, 2019, Commissioner Vestager indicated that more cases concerning online platforms are to be expected.
The Commission fined Google €2.42 billion in June 2017 for abusing its dominant position as a search engine by giving an illegal advantage to its own comparison shopping service, and €4.34 billion in July 2018 for illegal practices regarding Android mobile devices to strengthen the dominant position of Google’s search engine. Currently, the Commission is investigating Amazon’s use of third-party merchant data on its platform. Commissioner Vestager indicated that “[t]hese are the most recent cases. We have more to come”. Indeed, there are several more high-profile cases at both EU and national level pending, such as the Commission’s on-going investigations into Google AdSense and Amazon merchant data collection, the Austrian Competition Authority’s probe into Amazon’s marketplace dominance or the recent German Competition Authority’s Facebook decision.
The Commission’s Competition Directorate is also seeking a new budget line specifically for tools to prosecute cases in the digital sector. Commissioner Vestager stated that the Commission’s proposal for a special €140 million budget dedicated to digital tools will, e.g., include the hiring or contracting of experts. The special budget shall cover “all sorts of digital tools” to help improve access to file, data-mining, forensic IT or store large amounts of data. The separate budget line is for the next seven-year Multiannual Financial Framework—the EU funding mechanism—which runs from 2021 to 2027.
These statements highlight the continued interest of the Commission in the digital sector.