Monday, Sep 22, 2014

Google moves to end EU antitrust probe without fine

Written by Reuters | Brussels | Posted: April 14, 2013 2:28 am

Google has formally submitted a package of concessions to European Union competition regulators in a strong signal that the world’s No. 1 search engine may be able to settle a two-year antitrust investigation without a fine.

Google first offered proposals at the end of January following a spate of complaints from rivals such as Microsoft that triggered the EC’s investigation in November 2010.

But the company,which has a market share of over 80 percent in Europe’s Internet search market according to research firm comScore,has now made a formal offer after fine-tuning its proposals following discussions with the EU antitrust authority.

“In the last few weeks,the Commission completed its preliminary assessment formally setting out its concerns. On this basis,Google then made a formal submission of commitments to the Commission,” said Antoine Colombani,the Commission’s spokesman on competition policy.

“We are now preparing the launch of a market test to seek feedback from market players,including complainants,on these commitment proposals,” he said,declining to provide details.

EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia,speaking in Washington,said on Thursday that whatever agreement is reached will be legally binding.

“I am trying to reach a decision … that will include legally binding commitments based on the Google proposal,” he told reporters.

The US Federal Trade Commission wrapped up a similar probe in early January by concluding that Google did not manipulate search results.

It also extracted pledges that Google would end the practice of “scraping” content from other websites for its products and allow advertisers to export analytical data,but did not take formal,legal action to ensure those pledges would be met – a decision that angered Google’s critics.

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