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Airlines, hotels, retailers fear being left out in Google’s search changes

BRUSSELS, May 24 (Reuters) – Lobbying groups representing airlines, hotels, and retailers have urged European Union tech regulators to ensure that Google takes their views into account, and not just large intermediaries when making changes to comply with landmark tech rules.
Airlines for Europe group that has Air France KLM (AIRF.PA), open new tab and British Airways owner IAG (ICAG.L), opens new tab> as members, hotel group Hotrec, European Hotel Forum, EuroCommerce, Ecommerce Europe and Independent Retail Europe had in March expressed their concerns about the impact of the new rules.
EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) imposes a list of dos and don’ts on Google and five other tech giants aimed at giving users more choice and rivals a better chance to compete, but the groups voiced concerns that the adjustments could hurt their revenues.
In a joint letter to EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager and EU industry chief Thierry Breton dated May 22, they said their worries have mounted since then.
“Our industries have serious concerns that currently considered solutions and requirements for implementing the DMA could further increase discrimination,” they wrote.
“Initial observations indicate that these changes risk severely depleting direct sales revenues of companies by giving more prominence to powerful online intermediaries due to the preferential treatment they would receive,” they said.
The Commission, which is now investigating Google for possible DMA breaches, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Google, which in a March blog post said changes to search results give large intermediaries and aggregators more traffic and less for hotels, airlines, merchants, and restaurants, had no immediate comment.
“We are concerned that the non-compliance investigation refers only to the need to treat third-party services in a fair and non-discriminatory manner, without any acknowledgment of European businesses that also offer their services on Google,” the groups said.
( Credit)
Foo Yun Chee

Thomson Reuters

An agenda-setting and market-moving journalist, Foo Yun Chee is a 20-year veteran at Reuters. Her stories on high-profile mergers have pushed up the European telecoms index, lifted companies’ shares, and helped investors decide on their move. Her knowledge and experience of European antitrust laws and developments helped her break stories on Microsoft, Google, Amazon, numerous market-moving mergers, and antitrust investigations. She has previously reported on Greek politics and companies when Greece’s entry into the eurozone meant it punched above its weight on the international stage, as well as Dutch corporate giants and the quirks of Dutch society and culture that never fail to charm readers.

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