Google apologises to Thierry Breton over plan to target EU commissioner

Google apologises to Thierry Breton over plan to target EU commissioner

Sundar Pichai says he was unaware of plan for ‘pushback’ against the regulator

The chief executive of Google’s parent company Alphabet has apologised to Thierry Breton after an internal document laid out a plan to attack the EU commissioner, and promised that such tactics were “not the way we operate”.

In a virtual meeting on Thursday, Sundar Pichai told Mr Breton, the internal market commissioner, that Google was a very large company and that the document “was never shown to me”. He added that he had not “sanctioned” the plan, according to two people familiar with the conversation.

The document set out Google’s response to landmark new legislation from the EU as the bloc reshapes how it regulates internet companies.

It contained a two-month strategy to remove “unreasonable constraints” to Google’s business model and “reset the narrative”. It singled out Mr Breton, listing one objective to “increase pushback” on the French commissioner in an attempt to weaken support for the proposed plans in Brussels.