News Column

EU to Ask Google for More Concessions on Online Searches

May 28, 2013

Alexandra Mayer-Hohdahl, dpa

The European Union will ask internet giant Google to make further concessions in order to address the bloc's concerns over its online search results.

"We will ask Google probably - I cannot anticipate, but I'm almost 100 per cent - we will ask Google to improve its proposals," EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said Tuesday during a debate at the European Parliament.

The EU's executive, the European Commission, has been probing Google practices since November 2010, after competitors such as Microsoft complained about the US company's dominance in the internet search engine market.

The commission is concerned that Google is giving its specialized services - such as Google Maps, Google Shopping and Google Places - favourable treatment in the way it displays online search results, hampering competition and user choices.

Google has proposed making changes in the way it displays search results in a bid to secure a settlement and avoid a fine equivalent to up to 10 per cent of its global turnover.

"We believe our proposal to the European Commission addresses the ... concerns that were raised," Google spokesman Al Verney said. "We continue to work with the commission to settle this case."

The company's proposals are currently being reviewed by complainants, stakeholders and other interested parties, who can share their opinions with the commission before it makes a decision on how to proceed.

The so-called market test had been expected to end on Monday, but was extended by one month until the end of June to allow more time for feedback, Almunia said.

Almunia hopes that a settlement with Google can be reached so that "by the end of this year, we will have solved the problems." Otherwise, the commission will not hesitate to proceed with "a negative decision."

Google has repeatedly landed in the cross hairs of competition regulators in Europe and the United States. The commission has for instance also received a formal complaint about Google's Android smartphone operating system.

"We have not yet decided if we will open a formal investigation," Almunia said.

Google has more than 32,000 employees and annual revenues of nearly 38 billion dollars.

Source: Copyright 2013 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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