Re: Where's the Line?
"I think the question should be has the EU crossed the line and how will they recover from it?"
In short no. It's the European Commission, which is one of the institutions of the EU, not the EU as a whole that does this. It's also about the only governmental EU institution that is supposed to act in the best interest of Europe as a whole, as compared to EU Parliament (citizens), Council(countries) or the Committee of the regions.
So for ruling on whether something is anti-competitive is pretty much down to the EC, many of the cases are without precedent, and there are plenty of EU companies that it has ruled against.
"They are doing it because they have now only just decided that Google has market dominance "
Nope, that was decided a long time ago. You'll note that neither the EC or Google argue this point, it is accepted by both sides that Google holds a dominant market position in search. The question is whether Google is abusing it's market position. While there are a number of things that are agreed a being abuses of market position, it is possible for the EC to decide that a particular behavior is being abusive without a precedent. Obviously they'd need some evidence, but they aren't tied to just say price fixing.
"plugging their own stuff in combination with market dominance is against the law. "
Using their market dominance in search to actively promote their own product at the expense of their competitors is exactly what the issue is. It doesn't matter what the product is, the using of your market dominant position for anti-competitive purposes is.
"The more I read about this the more it seems the EU is fining Google and then making up reasons to do so. How can Google have complied with a law that wasnt a law until they were fined for it?"
If a company is in a market dominant position*** then they have to ensure their actions are not abusing the position. Their behavior has been ruled as being anti-competitive* through using a dominant market position. It's pretty clear cut. Fairly typical tech attitude, disruptive = illegal, but by the time you sue us we'll have already crushed the competition.
Almost always in these cases it comes down to economic/legal arguments about exactly what is and isn't "fair competition". I've had to read and summate (and write the odd paper on) a few dozen EC decisions, it's interesting how they come to generally correct (IMHO) decisions but with (to my mind) quite odd reasonings.
They are pretty consistent across rulings, ie Volvo heavy can't buy Scania, because bad for customers**, but could buy pretty much any other truck manufacturer without it being anti-competitive. Volvo heavy buys Renault heavy, EC says OK, referencing Scania decision.
"Interestingly there doesnt seem to even be a solution to the problem, only that Google must provide a solution and then be monitored for compliance. "
Erm, that *is* the solution. Google doesn't stop providing any of it's services, it doesn't get a monopoly taken away from it, it just stops promoting/demoting search results for shopping comparison sites. It agrees that it done bad, pays a fine, and stops doing it. Then someone checks they aren't doing it.
Not abusing your market position is a regulation you have to follow. If you don't, you get fined, and someone will be round to check that you are following it.
* Not that it matters, but I agree.
** Much of that decision was an argument between Volvo/EC over who is Volvo's customer for trucks, and do those customers have any real negotiating power.
*** The EC has definitions for this. In general, more than 25% of the market and 5 million+ a year in turnover in the EU are the minimum hurdles