Google Competition Plan not Good Enough, Says EU Antitrust Chief

on Jul 18, 2013
Listen, Thursday, July 18th: The world’s most popular search engine Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) must do more to overcome the European Union’s concerns that it is blocking rivals in web search results, the EU antitrust commissioner Joaquin Almunia has concluded. Google’s share price was marginally down in early morning trading on the NASDAQ, ahead of the release of the much-anticipated Google earnings later today.

**EU Demanding “Better Proposals” from Google**
Speaking at a press conference in Brussels yesterday, Joaquin Almunia, the EU commissioner for competition and Vice-president of the European Commission, said that the search giant needed to present “better proposals” if it wanted to settle the nearly three year old antitrust probe into the way it operated its search service.

“The proposals that Google sent to us months ago are not enough to overcome our concerns,” Almunia said, as quoted by Bloomberg, adding that he had written to Google’s Chairman Eric Schmidt, asking the search giant to present either better or improved proposals.
As The Guardian has reported in its coverage of the news, the Commissioner’s comment came more than a year after Google fist offered its suggestions for improving the way it displayed its search results, and two months after the proposals were made public. In April, Google submitted a proposal including displaying links to competitors close to where it displayed its own services on its results page. The search giant also offered to put “frames” around promotional links.

!m[Search Giant Needs to Present Better Proposals to the EU](/uploads/story/4126/thumbs/pic_1_inline.jpg)
The proposals were heavily criticised by opponents. The Guardian quoted Fairsearch, a lobbying group whose members include Microsoft and Nokia, as well as smaller British, French and German web companies, as saying that anything which gave Google’s own products more prominence would increase rather than reduce the search engine’s dominance.

The BBC quoted another group, the Microsoft-backed Initiative for a Competitive Online Marketplace, as noting that it was “reassuring that the Commission has recognised, as had been argued by many, that Google’s offer of proposed remedies was inadequate”.
**Areas of Concern**
The BBC also quoted Google’s spokesman Al Verney as saying in response to Almunia’s comments that the search giant remained committed to settling the case, and that its offer clearly addressed the four areas of concern highlighted by the EU.

The areas of concern, which first came to the Commission’s attention in 2010, are how Google favours its own services in search results, how it displays content from other websites, how it manages advertisements appearing next to the search results and how its actions affect marketers’ ability to buy advertisements through rival networks.
“We continue to work with the commission to settle this case,” Google’s spokesman added. If the search giant does not provide a satisfactory solution, the Commission might take court action which could see Google fined up to 10 percent of its annual revenue.
**Google’s share price was 0.02 percent lower at $918.33 on the NASDAQ as of 08:59 EDT on 18 July 2013.**
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