Antitrust: The European Commission Puts Pressure on Google

If Google is not to be the object of prosecution in Europe, the European Commissioner said it depends only on the firm and the concessions will be. Because Joaquin Almunia, Google for abuse of its dominant position in the search to promote its services.

Contrary to the FTC, the European Commission seems determined not to pass the sponge on Google practices, in particular with regard to online search.

The European Commissioner for competition, Joaquin Almunia, once again presented the pressure on the American giant. He recalled if Google wanted to escape prosecution, he was required to change the way it presents its services in its search engine results.

Asked by the Financial Times, the Commissioner believes, while the investigation continues, Google diverts traffic to its services, including mapping and purchase comparer. And Joaquin Almunia, Google operates to this end its dominance in online search. Position which he said Google abuse.

For the Commissioner, such statements are an opportunity to emphasize the need to make concrete proposals to address these supposed problems of competition with Google. But with his victory with the FTC, Google may however decide to not relent in Europe.

Google does not quite according to Brussels
If the concessions made by Google are insufficient, the Commission threatens to proceed.

The prospect of a settlement agreement between the European Commission and Google seems to move away. Accused of abuse of a dominant position, the American giant has for several months to make proposals/concessions in Brussels in order to stop the investigation.

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Last July, Google thought hold the right end with proposals considered as “a good basis of work” by Joaquín Almunia, the European Commissioner for competition.

But obviously, the engine is not far enough. “If effective solutions are quickly identified and successfully tested, the competition may be recovered in the short term,” the Commissioner said in a speech in New York.

“We however not there, and it must be clear that, in the absence of satisfactory proposals as soon as possible, I will be forced to continue our formal procedures”, has warned.

If the investigation continues, Google could be sentenced to a fine equivalent to 10% of its annual turnover.

4 areas where Google is suspected of abuse of dominant position
It should be noted that the investigation by the European Commission on Google’s online search practices opened in November 2010. Ten companies have filed a complaint with the competition authorities including the Foundem price comparison site and the French Deal of the day and 1plusV.

“Our investigation has led us to identify four areas in which Google practices can be considered as abuse of a dominant position,” said the Commissioner.

Specifically, the Commission pins links to the Google services forward in vertical search, in order to ensure “preferential treatment” compared to other specialized search engines.

“Our second concern relates to the way in which Google copy of the contents of competing vertical search engines and uses them in its own offerings”, said Joaquín Almunia.

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Two other areas of concern of the Commission relate to advertising: Google is particularly believed to impose exclusivity clauses to its advertising partners.

On the other side of the Atlantic, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also conducts a thorough investigation into the Mountain View giant research and advertising practices.

Google also discussed an agreement with Europe
The European Commissioner for competition Joaquin Almunia met Eric Schmidt on December 18. To resolve its dispute with Europe, Google must submit commitments in detail to the Commission in January, which will then choose to meet or not.

According to a recent article in Politico, Google was ready to make concessions in the field of online search in order to reach an agreement with the U.S. regulator and thus escape a trial.

In Europe, Google prefers the path of negotiation. The firm same should soon make a proposal to the European Commission to, perhaps, lead to a settlement in this case.

Smaller differences with Brussels
According to the European competition Commissioner, Joaquín Almunia, who met Eric Schmidt on 18 December, Google must as early as January make a undertaking detailed responding to criticism of the European authorities.

“From our initial discussions in July with Google, we have substantially reduced our differences on how to resolve the four concerns of the Commission in terms of competition” so says Joaquín Almunia.

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