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Google nears EC antitrust settlement with improved concessions offer

EC says a deal is in sight
Wed Feb 05 2014, 12:32
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INTERNET SEARCH GIANT Google has offered further concessions to address the European Commission's (EC) antitrust concerns, which could finally put an end to the ongoing case.

The EC said on Wednesday that with its latest offer, Google has effectively settled the three year probe and has dodged a potential $5bn fine. While the EC has accepted the concessions, they must first be accepted by the complainants, a list which includes Google's rival Microsoft. 

In its latest proposal, Google said that it will display results from three competitors in a similar way whenever it promotes its own specialised search services.

This joins Google's previous concessions, which include giving content providers the option to opt-out of its specialised search services, removing exclusivity requirements in its agreements with publishers and removing restrictions on the ability for competing search advertising services to run campaigns advertising their services.

European Commission VP in charge of competition policy Joaquín Almunia said, "My mission is to protect competition to the benefit of consumers, not competitors.

"I believe that the new proposal obtained from Google after long and difficult talks can now address the Commission's concerns. Without preventing Google from improving its own services, it provides users with real choice between competing services presented in a comparable way; it is then up to them to choose the best alternative. This way, both Google and its rivals will be able and encouraged to innovate and improve their offerings.

"Turning this proposal into a legally binding obligation for Google would ensure that competitive conditions are both restored quickly and maintained over the next years."

Google said in a statement, "We will be making significant changes to the way Google operates in Europe.

"We have been working with the European Commission to address issues they raised and look forward to resolving this matter."

The EC said it will put forward Google's latest concessions to the complainants for scrutiny before the matter is officially settled. µ


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