The European Commission’s competition commissioner has scuppered a proposed settlement with Google (GOOGL). The Commission has already taken many pounds of flesh from Microsoft (MSFT) and Intel (INTC) over the past year, so now it is looking to add some Google cuts to the meat locker.
What about the EU’s case against Gazprom, you ask?
I’m not a big Google or Microsoft fan, but the accusations leveled against them (and Intel) are highly speculative. Gazprom’s exercise of market power, and its protection of that market power, is almost textbook. The egregious price discrimination, and its use of contractual terms (no re-sale) to support that discrimination, is a blatant example. So on the merits, the Gazprom case should proceed and the Google case should be settled, and on anything but onerous terms.
But the craven Euros quake before Gazprom. Indeed, they seem to be even less willing to confront the company now that Putin is on the war path.
They have a better case against Gazprom, and that case could be a political lever in what is an existential battle over European security: Putin and the Russians have ranted and raved about the case when the Euros did press it some, which indicates that it hits the company, and hence Russia, where it hurts. But rather than hitting this pressure point, the Euros bury the case and go kick Google instead.
Don’t think that Putin doesn’t notice. And know that it is exactly this kind of cowardice that emboldens him.