Google EU Court Defeats Could Help U.K. Net $2.1 Billion Bonus
(Bloomberg) -- A few more court defeats for Google in the European Union and the U.K. may be set for a billion-dollar payday.
The U.K. stands to recoup as much as 1.8 billion euros ($2.1 billion) from its share of fines that the EU has levied against companies such as Alphabet Inc.’s Google over the years, according to the EU’s budget report published Thursday.
The EU’s Brexit divorce deal lays out what happens to the U.K.’s share of massive fines levied for corporate wrongdoing by the EU’s powerful antitrust chief, Margrethe Vestager. Penalties including the $9 billion euros extracted to date from Google are paid to the EU and held until a company has exhausted court challenges that seek to overturn the fine.
Google is waiting to hear the results from the EU’s General Court to its first challenge of a 2.4 billion euro fine levied in 2017 for unfairly promoting its shopping service. If that fails, it could still appeal to the European Court of Justice, the bloc’s top court. The Silicon Valley giant has also appealed two other fines, with verdicts on those expected at a later date.
If Google wins, it gets the money back. But if that final appeal before the ECJ fails, the European Commission adds the money to its budget, usually funded by contributions from EU member states, which included the U.K. up until last year. The total amount of outstanding competition fines under appeal stands at some 14.3 billion euros currently.
“As of Dec. 31, 2020, the estimated U.K. share of outstanding fines is 1.8 billion euros,” which will be returned to the U.K. over time, the EU report says.
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