Another day, another EU, Google settlement attempt: Third time's the charm?

Another day, another EU, Google settlement attempt: Third time's the charm?

Summary: From the "here we go again" department. Google's third attempt to settle with European antitrust regulators might just be enough to appease the Brussels-based bureaucrats.

TOPICS: Google, EU
(Credit: Google/Connie Zhou)

Google's third attempt to ease relations with the European Union after allegations it abused its search market dominance might just be enough to avoid a massive antitrust fine in the region.

According to multiple sources speaking to Reuters, the three-year investigation may becoming to a close after the latest round of concessions submitted by the search giant were reportedly approved on first pass by regulators in the 28 member state bloc.

A settlement would see Google avoiding a fine of up to $5 billion, as much as 10 percent of its annual global turnover in 2010-2011.

It's the third pass after an unnamed official cited European Competition Commission Joaquin Almunia as saying it was "much better." Previously, he explained he was "not satisfied" with Google's second response to the investigation.

Google faced some level of embarrassment in its first round when it said it had done a "pretty good job" to appease European regulators. Except, officials weren't having any of it. Responding a month later, Almunia said the proposals were "not enough."

On the second round, the search giant new submitted proposals that would offer new competition links, which appear under the paid-for "sponsored" search results. A subtle yet important change, larger text and icons would have allowed users to check results from rival search engines and services.

But according to rivals, who were given the blueprints of how Google might look in a post-antitrust Europe, they were unhappy with the proposals and said urged the European Commission to take the harshest measures possible.

But European officials remained reluctant to fine the Silicon Valley giant, instead opting to settle. However, it takes two to tango and Google continued to push European officials to the limits.

Almunia attempted to settle under an Article 9 procedure, which allows a company to remedy problems flagged by the competition watchdog. But after more than a year of to-ing and fro-ing between the search giant and the executive body, little actionable outcome has come to fruition. 

It's not clear what has changed in the third round. However, the Reuters story said EU regulators will not seek further feedback from rivals, who previously dismissed Google's efforts to settle.

According to another unnamed official, the EU now knows what Google needs to do to finalize any deal after receiving feedback from two prior market tests.

Topics: Google, EU

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  • Piping Up

    Large pipes provide for future growth. Present value calcs may show that pumping eight times harder through cheaper, half diameter pipes is cheaper, but Google values future operational efficiency over higher acquisition costs.

    It must have been a large engineering expense, paid in $now, to iterate designs and build testable prototype Search/Adworld systems, but it will be worth it if the flow of info is not choked.
  • NOT enough

    Sorry Google, but this is NOT enough. The corporation knows it's not enough, each time so far that they've tried to get away with minimal concessions. Google is playing the EU for fools and stringing them along with half-baked offers, wasting everybody's time. EU tax payers are paying for this ridiculous sideshow.

    The latest offer is rich, especially coming from Google. No other company in histiry has invested so much time and effort into reporting OTHER companies, most famously rivals like Microsoft, for alleged antitrust. E.g. When Google posed as the independent voice of the web when calling for sanctions against Microsoft's free web browser, then as soon as that succeeded unveiled its own web browser Chrome. Stay classy.
  • Google needs regulation to keep it in its place

    Google's domination is a massive problem.

    It seems the EU is the only jurisdiction willing to confront it. But other governments around the world will one day realize (when it is too late) that Google is too dominant.

    When nations around the world realize that their economies depend on one company, then they will know what kind of problem they are up against. By then it might be too difficult to do anything about.