EU antitrust chief: Google case continues, despite concessions

EU antitrust chief: Google case continues, despite concessions

Summary: Europe's antitrust chief doesn't seen an end in sight to the Google palaver, which could see the search giant face massive fines at the end of an already-lengthy antitrust investigation.

TOPICS: Google, Legal, Mobility, EU

European regulators could charge Google with breaching EU antitrust and competition law if the search giant does not appease regulators with satisfactory concessions.

European Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said in a speech at Fordham University in New York, that Google could face "formal proceedings" if the company does not offer a series of adequate solutions to Europe's concerns that it is abusing its monopoly in the region. 

As quoted by Reuters, Almunia said that were "effective solutions" found quickly and successfully enacted, then competition across Europe "could be restored at an early stage by means of a commitment decision," implying that Google could promise to alter its business practices on the continent.

"However, we are not there yet, and it must be clear that -- in the absence of satisfactory proposals in the short term -- I will be obliged to continue with our formal proceedings," he added. 

Any company found in breach of European antitrust laws could face a maximum fine of up to 10 percent of their global turnover. In Google's case, this could amount to €2.9 billion ($3.8 bn) based on 2011 global revenue.

In such cases as these, altering how a business operates is often more damaging to the company in question than the massive fines that Google faces.

Google is accused of pushing out rival search engines and services by abusing its monopoly in the European Union. The four areas of concern were noted in a letter by Almunia to Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt earlier this year.

The company offered to settle the probe, which may mean that Google ultimately admits guilt but in return avoids a potentially huge fine.  

The search giant was also told to extend its concessions offering to account for mobile services also, according to reports. EU regulators were apparently ready to ease up on the company if it showed "willingness" to extend the scope of its alleged anti-competitive strategy to its mobile sector.

The case continues until Google appeases the European regulators enough, or a formal "statement of objections" is handed to the company, which could then result in serious ramifications for the U.S. firm.

A Google spokesperson told ZDNet that Google continue to negotiate the settlement offer, but declined to give a statement at this time.

Topics: Google, Legal, Mobility, EU

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  • so what does this anti-trust case center around?

    shipping one search engine with their OS, like what happened to MS in Europe?
  • Cant earn it? Socialism crippling your economy? Better grab some free money

    from another successful American company. Here take it, I'm sure it will get put to good use instead of line some crony's pockets. The MS cash did wonders for Opera's competitive situation. Let's all work 30 hour weeks, take 6 weeks of holiday, retire at 50, kick back on a beach in greece or portugal, and let the germans pay for our food and housing and medical care. Thanks germany, after you get used to this we'll be back for more. And EU how about a tax on successful people leaving France? That ought to fund hundreds of freeloaders.
    Johnny Vegas
    • To tell you the truth you just sold me on

      Europe;). Take our retirement system who wants to be 70 and go to the beach!?! Who wants to work more? How does that benefit me? Oh yeah in case you did not know this I'm in this for ME! Of corse I want more vacation its a good thing! Who wants to work harder for that matter? I'd much rather get more enjoyment out of life than less and last time I looked work did not mean joy.

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn
  • Concessions made for all OSs, Browsers, Search, Map and Online Sales Apps

    As a service to Apple, Microsoft, and a host of complaining Apps, Google should negotiate reciprocal relations. Microsoft and Apple will be thrilled to hear that Google is open to letting IE and Safari into Android if they let Chrome into Windows and iOS. Chrome will let Bing and Firefox in so why not the other way (without speed traps set for Google by walled APIs). Anti competitive practices will be banned for Yelp, Twitter and Facebook.

    The EU plans to make its standards worldwide. Fair and Balanced enough for you?
    • It sounds good on paper

      but has been a disaster in the real world.
      William Farrel
  • Push out rival search engines??????????????????

    Search engines are accessed by typing a URL into a friggin browser. Google is superior to the rivals. Users know that, so they type whey they want to search. Google maps is pretty cool, and so is their batch of online apps. As far as I can tell, the only other serious competition is Microsoft, which has been repeatedly hammered by the Extortioner Union as well. Google has market share because it is BETTER and the masses KNOW IT. The EU is an organization of Extortionists, pure and simple. The EU is pushing rival search engines upon the resistant public and trying to force Google to market rival products.
    • Google is more successful in search...

      because of their timing. Yahoo was the only real search engine at the time, and Google had some really talented developers and leadership that did it better. But we all know Yahoo has had a bunch of mismanagement and it was only a matter of time before someone yanked the torch from their hands.
  • Cash Cow! That's what Joaquin Almunia sees

    when he gazes upon The Google! Fines of 10% of global turnover, or gross revenue world wide represent the operational definition of unquenchable greed and absolute absence of moral standards.