It looks as if European lawmakers really would like to get their teeth into Google.
The European Parliament in Strasbourg has overwhelmingly approved by 384 votes to 174 with 56 abstentions a resolution calling for “unbundling search engines from other commercial services.” The motion, which isn’t binding, didn’t mention Google by name.
And it came despite objections from the U.S. Congress that the move risked politicizing an antitrust investigation.
Worry not, observers say the initiative has no binding power on the European Commission.
Guenther Oettinger, the EU’s digital economy commissioner, said he didn’t think breaking-up Google “is what we can expect” after the vote to bolster search-engine competition.
And Axelle Lemaire, France’s secretary of state for digital affairs, told reporters in Brussels that the vote “didn’t have any legal value”. It “simply expresses the wish of the newly elected European parliamentarians and does this in a strong manner.”
But it does highlight said the Wall Street Journal the growing political resistance in Europe to the power of Google, which has a European market share of over 90%, far higher than in the U.S.
Another signal of troubles ahead: On Wednesday, EU privacy regulators called on search engines to widen the bloc’s new right-to-be-forgotten rules to all of their websites.
French lawmaker Anne Sander said she hoped the Strasbourg resolution would “act as an electric shock, to ensure that Europe comes out of its situation as a colony of the new digital world.”
Still, a number of lawmakers warned that the EU shouldn’t adopt a protectionist stance toward the Internet.