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Google hits back at EU in shopping antitrust case

The investigation fails to recognise the realities of online shopping, Google says

A Google logo on the outside of one of its offices

Google has rejected the EU's claims that its shopping results are unfair, saying Europe's competition commissioner has failed to recognise the "realities" of online shopping behaviour.

The commissioner said the way in which Google displays shopping search results is unfair to other companies because it favours items for sale on its own sites, rather than showcasing those sold on price comparison sites.

However, Google dismissed this criticism as simply a description of the way online retail works. The tech firm added that price comparison sites were getting less traffic because of retail giants such as Amazon taking the bulk of sales, because people no longer hunt far and wide for the best deal.

The EU had failed to take into consideration the impact Amazon has had, instead blaming Google, the company argued.

"Online shopping is robustly competitive, with lots of evidence supporting the common-sense conclusion that Google and many other websites are chasing Amazon, by far the largest player on the field," Google's Kent Walker, senior vice president and general counsel, said.

However, the EU said Amazon couldn't be considered a rival to price comparison sites because it sometimes uses these in its listings.

However, Google counter-argued that the volume of this through-traffic is not enough to make a big impact and anyway, Amazon has its own price comparison tool it offers customers.

"We're confident these cases will ultimately be decided based on the facts and that this analysis will show our product innovations have benefited consumers and merchants, and expanded competition," Walker said.

"The surest signs of dynamic competition in any market are low prices, abundant choices, and constant innovation and that's a great description of shopping on the internet today."

The EU first raised its concerns in April 2015 and then made further claims in July 2016 that Google's process of product selection was unfair.

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