Trump uses the EU's giant fine on Google as another missile in his trade war

Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty ImagesUS President Donald Trump
  • US President Donald Trump tweeted that the EU’s record $US5 billion fine of Google was a sign the bloc had “taken advantage of the U.S.”
  • Trump described Google as “one of our great companies.”
  • The president appeared to be using the antitrust fine as a salvo in his escalating trade war with the EU.
  • Trump is due to meet with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker next week to discuss trade.

US President Donald Trump criticised the European competition watchdog’s decision to fine Google $US5 billion on Wednesday, saying the EU had “taken advantage of the U.S.”

He wrote on Twitter on Thursday: “I told you so! The European Union just slapped a Five Billion Dollar fine on one of our great companies, Google. They truly have taken advantage of the U.S., but not for long!”

Trump appeared to be using the antitrust fine as a weapon in his ongoing trade war with the European Union. On Wednesday, he threatened “tremendous retribution” against the EU unless the bloc agrees to substantial trade concessions.

It coincides with the European Commissioner for Competition’s decision to fine Google the biggest antitrust penalty levelled on a single company, over its abuse of its dominant Android mobile operating system. Margrethe Vestager said Google had used its popular mobile software to protect its position in search. The investigation began in 2015, pre-dating Trump’s presidency by more than a year, and is not immediately relevant to US-EU trade.

Vestager was actually asked about Trump on Wednesday, given the context of growing tension between the EU and US. A journalist quoted Trump, who told European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker at the G7 meeting last month: “Your tax lady really hates the US.” Vestager joked that the statement was only half true. “I do work with tax and I am a woman so that is 100% correct,” she said, but added: “I very much like the US.”

Trump is escalating his rhetoric against the union, describing the EU as a “foe” of the US. Trump slapped tariffs on steel and aluminium imported from the EU, and is considering extending these to include imported cars.

The president is due to conduct crunch talks with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker at the White House next week, where he could choose to bring up the Google fine again.

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