Andreas Schwab, the German member of the European Parliament behind the attempted break up of Google seems to have a conflict of interest. It seems that he has been earning money from a German law firm that represents anti-Google publishing interest in Germany. This is according to the New York Times.
It has been lobbied by German publishers for the passage of the “ancillary copyright” law, which is intended to exact licensing revenue from Google for indexing their content. Up to this point, it’s been backfiring.
While according to European rules, Schwab has a duty to disclose the law firm relationship, but isn’t bard from maintaining it while in Parliament. Not only that, he isn’t prevented from sponsoring resolutions or legislation that may be indirectly tied to interests that the law firm represents. And this seems to be the exact situation.
It would be a problem if the European Parliament had the legal authority to initiate a breakup of Google, but the Parliament doesn’t have the authority to do so. Any resolution or recommendation that would cause a break up the US company would be mainly symbolic.
Tomorrow is when the non-binding resolution comes up, and there’s a good chance it could pass.
The intent of the resolution, aside from expressing deep satisfaction with Google, is to raise the stakes and put pressure on the European Commission, which is the actual body that is presiding over the antitrust issue. If there was a successful “break up of Google” resolution, there would be some additional significant concessions that would have to be made by Google to settle the matter.
There has been some concern about the European Parliament resolution by the US as politicizing the antitrust process, and according to the Wall Street Journal yesterday, the US mission to the EU had this to say:
“It is important that the process of identifying competitive harms and potential remedies be based on objective and impartial findings and not be politicized.”