EU Cases Against US Firms

The EU’s decision to impose the biggest anti-trust fine in its history on Silicon Valley giant Google is the latest in a string of competition cases against US firms.

Here are the main European Union competition investigations targeting the US that Washington has slammed as unfair.

The EU’s 2.4 billion euro ($2.7 billion) fine for Google on Tuesday for skewing search results in favour of its own shopping service is the first of three concurrent investigations into the ubiquitous US search engine giant.

In April 2016, the commission also opened a probe into whether Google gives unfair prominence to its own Android apps such as maps or music streaming in deals with mobile manufacturers that include Samsung and Huawei.

Then in July last year, Brussels targeted Google’s advertising business, saying it had restricted some websites from displaying ads from competitors.

In all the cases, Google risks a fine of 10 percent of worldwide global sales for one year.

Brussels came down hard last year on the world’s most valuable and iconic company, Apple, ordering it to repay Ireland a record 13 billion euros ($14.3 billion) in back taxes.

The August 2016 ruling found that Apple had benefited from a series of Irish sweetheart tax deals that were illegal.

The US Treasury Department roundly rejected the reasoning of the commission’s decision, and Apple and the government of Ireland both filed appeals.

In the wake of the LuxLeaks tax scandal the EU launched further inquiries into the practice of countries offering extremely low corporation tax rates in an effort to attract multinationals.

In October 2015 the EU ordered US coffee maker Starbucks to repay the Netherlands 30 million euros in back taxes.

The EU launched a formal investigation in December 2015 into tax deals between US fast food giant McDonald’s and Luxembourg, saying its preliminary assessment was that the arrangements breached state aid rules.

The case against McDonald’s stemmed from a complaint by trade unions and the charity War on Want that accused McDonald’s of avoiding around one billion euros ($1.1 billion) in taxes between 2009 and 2013, by shifting profits from one corporate division to another, and paying no local tax in Luxembourg.

Brussels has launched an investigation into Amazon’s tax arrangements over its tax deals in Luxembourg.

In June 2015 it also opened a formal investigation into the Seattle-based online retail giant’s e-book distribution.

In a historic case in March 2013, the European Commission fined US giant Microsoft 561 million euros ($638 million) for failing to provide clients with a choice of internet browsers for Windows 7, as it had promised to do.

It also fined the company 899 million euros in 2008, subsequently reduced to 860 million euros, for failing to comply with an order to share product information with rivals so that their software could work with Windows.

That came on top of a then-record fine of 497 million euros in 2004 for violating EU competition rules.

The EU in May fined US social media giant Facebook 110 million euros ($120 million) for providing incorrect and misleading information on its takeover of WhatsApp, imposing its biggest penalty for such a breach.

The admonishment came after EU regulators cleared the then $19 billion Facebook acquisition of WhatsApp in late 2014, a decision that faced criticism in Europe.

INTEL, the world’s biggest chipmaker, was in May 2009 fined a record 1.06 billion euros. The EU says it abused its stranglehold on the semiconductor market to crush its main rival, AMD.

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