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EU: Almunia assures more Google probes on the way

 |  June 23, 2014

European Commissioner Joaquin Almunia has reportedly sent a letter to other EU commissioners in efforts to convince his colleagues that the controversial settlement planned with Google should be approved because further competition scrutiny awaits for the company.

The letter, revealed by an unnamed source, suggests that Google’s antitrust troubles across the pond won’t let up anytime soon, even as it is expected to wrap up a years-long competition probe with the EU regarding a dispute over how Google displays rival search results. Almunia first announced last February that a preliminary settlement had been reached.

The commissioner revealed in the letter, dated June 11, that the proposed settlement with Google would not mean the company will be let off easy in the EU. “It can be safely predicted that Google’s compliance with EU competition law will be closely monitored for a long while,” the letter reads.

While the settlement proposal can still be modified, Almunia has been steadfast on getting the agreement cleared by the Commission, a settlement that would end a case that has dragged on since 2009. But consumer advocates, Google rivals and even some Commissioners expressed skepticism against the settlement, claiming it insufficiently addresses Google’s market dominance across the EU.

But Almunia had begun the process of dismissing complaints against the settlement proposal last week, a standard process. Now, he appears to be promoting the settlement based on the fact that further competition probes await the technology firm.

More Investigations to Come?

Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke out last month to call for a more aggressive competition crackdown on Google, while some have called for the company to be broken up. Just last week a Portuguese startup filed an antitrust complaint against Google regarding its Android smartphone apps.

In the letter, Almunia reportedly pointed to the “most advanced investigation” that is ongoing against Google, besides the current matter, as the case opened following complaints surrounding the Android operating system and its promotion. Google holds up to 80 percent of the EU smartphone market, report say.

Almunia also reportedly confirmed complaints regarding Google’s YouTube dominance, and advertising operations regarding Google operations known as AdWords and AdSense.

Full content: Economic Times of India

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