News24

EU demands Google 'remedies'

2012-05-21 19:42

Brussels - European Union anti-trust chiefs said on Monday they had asked Google to come up with "remedies" to satisfy Brussels’ concerns that it has abused its dominant market position.

"If Google comes up with remedies" within "a matter of weeks", Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia told a news conference, the EU will negotiate "instead of having to pursue proceedings and fines".

In November 2010, the European Commission launched an antitrust investigation into allegations that Google had abused a dominant market position, following complaints from rivals.

Significant concerns


Almunia said the probe had identified areas of significant concern in Brussels, notably: "preferential treatment" in the hierarchical presentation of search results; doubts over Google's full respect of copyrights; and "restrictions" written into advertising contracts and the "portability" of advertising across different internet platforms.

"Should this process fail to deliver a satisfactory set of remedies, the on-going formal proceedings will of course continue," Almunia said, with a possible next legal step being a formal statement of objections.

The EU spent a decade fighting with Microsoft in a series of related cases, and appeared to be signalling that it was minded to reach a quicker negotiated outcome in this case.

Not least with technology analysts who warn that the pace of technological change within the IT sphere makes lengthy pursuits even more cumbersome.

Disagreement


Google's Brussels-based spokesperson Al Verney indicated that the company would resist some of the EU's demands.
"We've only just started to look through the Commission's arguments," he said.

"We disagree with the conclusions but we're happy to discuss any concerns they might have.

"Competition on the web has increased dramatically in the last two years since the Commission started looking at this and the competitive pressures Google faces are tremendous.

"Innovation online has never been greater," he emphasised.