The woman with the power to tear Google apart said a breakup might not be the best idea

  • There’s lots of speculation that the EU might break Google up because it’s too powerful.
  • The EU’s top competition official, Margrethe Vestager, has shown an appetite for taking on Silicon Valley’s tech firms with multiple investigations and fines.
  • But on Wednesday, she said a breakup wouldn’t be a “silver bullet” for more competition.
  • Vestager is four years into her five-year term and she won’t necessarily have enough time to chop up Google.

There’s lots of speculation that Google will eventually be broken up, and that if a split happens, it will be European regulators who are responsible.

The woman most likely to pick up the axe is Margrethe Vestager, the European competition commissioner, who has overseen multiple anti-trust investigations and just handed Google a $US5 billion penalty for abusing its dominance of Andriod.

Asked in a press conference whether a Google break-up would be good for competition, Vestager replied: “I don’t know. I don’t know if it would serve the purpose of more competition to have Google broken up.

“I think what will serve competition is for more players to have a real go to be able to reach consumers. So we can use our choice to find out what suits us the best.”

But later Vestager pointed out that she might not be competition commissioner long enough to break up Google. Her mandate lasts for five years and she is already four years in. She has indicated that she would like a second term.

She said: “It would definitely not be for this mandate. Even if I was lucky enough to get the next one, maybe not for that one either. The thing is, I think we should have competition and I don’t think there are any silver bullets in breaking up a company to do that.

“And here we have a decision which is very clear, which will allow mobile device producers to have a choice. That will allow us as consumers to have a choice as well. That’s what competition is about. And I think that is much more important than a discussion of whether or not breaking up a company would do that.”

Google shouldn’t breathe a sigh of relief just yet. Vestager immediately added her support for a new law proposed by the EU that would regulate how Google, Apple, and other big tech firms deal with smaller businesses. It would give small businesses transparency around areas like how search results are ranked, and why big firms delist some services.

She also said back in March that the breakup of Google was a question that should still be “open and on the agenda.”

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