Google makes fresh settlement offer in EU antitrust probe, report says

According to a financial newspaper, Google has made the second attempt this month to satisfy the concerns of the EU's antitrust authorities and stave off full-blown charges

Google has reportedly made a fresh offer to settle its EU antitrust investigation, after competition authorities expressed dissatisfaction with an attempt earlier this month.

The company is being investigated for a number of alleged anticompetitive activities, such as boosting its own services over those of competitors in its search results, and shutting out competitors in its advertising contracts.

Google sent a letter earlier this month to competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia, apparently proposing steps it would take to address the antitrust concerns. According to a Financial Times report on Tuesday, Almunia pushed back and Google has tried again.

If Google fails to settle with the EU soon, it could find itself formally charged with antitrust violations, a move that could in turn lead to a fine equating to 10 percent of the company's revenues. There is theoretically no time limit on the investigation, but Almunia has repeatedly said that he would prefer to avoid "lengthy proceedings".

ZDNet contacted the European Commission about the FT's unsourced report, but was told Almunia's office could not comment.

The EU launched its investigation in 2010, following complaints from Microsoft and others. The four key allegations were:

  • That Google pushed the sponsored links for rival, vertically-oriented search providers down in its results.
  • That Google forces its advertising partners to shun rival ad platforms.
  • That Google made it too difficult for advertisers to port their campaigns over to rival platforms.
  • That Google has also copied content from those competing vertical search engines and used them in its own results.

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