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EU: Commission unveils Google progress

 |  February 5, 2014

Confirming earlier reports, European Commissioner Joaquin Almunia released a statement early Wednesday confirming progress made with Google and the antitrust case regarding how Google displays rival search results.

According to reports, Google’s third round of concessions to settle the matter are considered a vast improvement by the Commission in addressing competition concerns, effectively settling the dispute. Almunia announced Wednesday he would accept the proposals.

In a statement, Almunia said he believes “the new proposal obtained from Google after long and difficult talks can now address the Commission’s concerns.”

With the acceptance of the settlement offer – Google’s third attempt to settle competition concerns – Google will avoid fines that could have reached up to $5 billion.

The offer

The search giant’s offer reportedly includes displaying rivals’ logos and URL links in a prominent display when search results show up. Further, say reports, Internet content providers will be able to choose which Google material to use for its services.

Google is also said to be planning to end restrictions on advertisers’ ability to move campaigns to rival search engines.

Google holds a 75 percent share of the search engine market in Europe, consultancy firm comScore reports.

Rival input

Update: The most recent reports say Almunia has confirmed he will accept Google’s third proposal without third-party input. But the Commission’s decision not to consult rivals who lodged original complaints sparked fury among critics.

A representative for Microsoft-backed lobbyist ICOMP responded to the news by saying accepting the offer without consulting competitors is like “having the wool pulled over [Almunia’s] eyes.”

A second probe

While Google may be able to avoid a fine and end this investigation with the European Commission, the company is facing yet another probe by EU authorities regarding its Android smartphone operating system. The Commission launched an investigation regarding allegations Google anticompetitively diverts smartphone Internet traffic to its search engine.

Microsoft-backed lobbyist group FairSearch is among the complainants.

Full Content: Reuters

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